Joker, a Belgian Malinois, and his handler, Deputy Nathan Crain, are slated to join Patterson Police Services this fall.
Donations poured in from all over the county for the new K-9, Crain said. Fifteen donors offered a collective $18,000 to purchase Joker from Adelhorst International in Riverside and train and equip him.
Adelhorst has imported and trained police dogs since 1975 and sent animals to more than 500 police agencies in North American and the world.
Joker, who is 17 months old, cost the sheriff’s office $10,800 and will require more money to train and equip, Crain said.
Other costs include a training collar, a harness and housing equipment for a patrol car.
Late last spring when deputies went to pick out the dog, his name became obvious, Crain said.
“The first time I saw him, his mouth looked like he was smiling, and I said, ‘You’re some kind of joker,’” Crain recalled. “The name stuck.”
Joker is now training to be a police dog in Stanislaus County, mostly at the main sheriff facility on Hackett Road in Ceres, and bonding with Crain as his handler. He is expected to be ready to start work in early October after passing his service tests.
Joker is Crain’s first police dog. The deputy said the trust must be absolute between the two for the pair to work together.
Police dogs are trained as sport dogs and then retrained by officers for their specific duties. The dogs live with their handling deputies in their off time like any other pet. But they know how to take care of business when they must, Crain said.
Crain said he preferred dog breeds from Europe, where athletic sport dogs are common. He said dogs are bred more for show in North America.
As the pair played fetch earlier this week, Crain issued commands in German and Dutch, the languages Joker understands. Using foreign-language commands makes it easier for handlers to control their dogs, Crain said.
Patterson Police Chief Tori Hughes has noted in the past the need for a K-9 officer stationed on the West Side. Response times can be 25 to 30 minutes or more if a police dog team is called from another part of the county where they are regularly on patrol, she said in April.
Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.