AUBURN — Call it canine kismet.
“He was the first dog I saw,” Androscoggin County Deputy Sheriff Jon Guay said. Bosco, a 1-year-old German shepherd, seemed to be waiting at the kennel for him. “He had the right temperament and disposition. It was that quick.”
If all goes right, the man-and-dog team will last years. Since October, when Sgt. Brian Smith retired with his dog, Yuono, the department has been without a K-9 unit.
“I wanted this,” Guay said Thursday as the big, brown dog tugged on a long leash. He waited nearly a year for the assignment.
The holdup was money, until a justice assistance grant arrived at the department. It funded the dog’s $5,000 cost and part of his $1,100 training.
There will be lots of it for both partners.
Next week, the dog and officer will enter the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro for a three-month course. Advanced training will follow.
By this summer, the duo will be certified and on the street, Sheriff Guy Desjardins said. It should strengthen the department in many ways, giving it resources to find a lost child in the woods or drugs hidden in a car.
Sgt. James Jacques, who served with a dog years ago, said the team has a practical role in investigations. It also serves an important community role in schools and elsewhere.
People gravitate to the dog in a way that sheds some of the fear of police, Jacques said.
For the department, Bosco is a commitment of money and resources. For Guay, it’s a more personal commitment. When their shift is over, they go home together.
Guay had lots of talks with his wife, Beth, about adding to their family. Last Friday night, just hours after the department purchased Bosco at North American K-9 Services in East Hampton, Conn., the pair went home.
For Guay, the biggest payoff will come once they go to work as a patrol team.
“You’ve got your best friend in the back seat,” he said.