Sgt. Kristopher Bouchard and Dutch burn off some energy on the soccer fields behind Auburn Middle School on Wednesday. Dutch is retiring from service Thursday and will live as a pet with Bouchard. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

AUBURN — Dec. 27 is the last day on the beat for Dutch, a K-9 officer. The 9½-year-old German shepherd is retiring from police work.

Dutch, in his Santa hat, wished everyone a safe and happy holiday Tuesday on the Auburn Police Department’s Facebook page. The police dog is retiring. (APD photo)

Dutch and his handler, Sgt. Kristopher Bouchard, have been together for eight years.

“It’s going to be tough,” Bouchard said Wednesday. His best friend will no longer be in the back seat of his cruiser.

Bouchard said he didn’t want to put off Dutch’s retirement.

“These dogs are worked pretty hard,” Bouchard said. “They’re not sitting around the house.” A police dog undergoes regular training that requires rigorous activities, including running and jumping over objects, he said.

“He has slowed down a little bit. I don’t want to run him into the ground,” Bouchard said. He wants to avoid a forced retirement because of an injury. “I want to let him enjoy retirement.”

Born in Canada, Dutch was assigned to Bouchard in March 2010 when the dog was a year old. The two completed training together and bonded.

Dutch is a dual-trained police dog, working patrol and narcotics.

Dutch will continue to live with Bouchard, his wife and three children.

“He’s a family dog, but he knows how to work,” Bouchard said.

When it’s time to leave for work, the dog’s demeanor changes. He’s on alert.

Bouchard shared some proud dog owner moments with Dutch, such as the time in police academy training that Dutch was the only dog that sniffed out and stayed on a 1½-mile trail until he found the “missing” person.

“He didn’t give up,” Bouchard said.

Another time, in North Auburn, police were looking for a person considered suicidal. “Dutch ended up tracking the guy. Dutch was circling the base of a tree.”

Police looked up. “There was the guy.”

During annual citizen police academy ceremonies, Dutch is there, representing the department and acting as a goodwill ambassador.

As he was on Christmas Day, Dutch is often featured on the Police Department’s Facebook page. “He’s popular. He gets the most likes,” Bouchard said with a laugh.

On Thursday, Dutch will spend much of his day hanging out with the officers at the station. At the end of his shift, there’ll be a ceremony for Dutch.

Then it’s back home, where Dutch will stay.

“It will be bittersweet,” Bouchard said. He doesn’t plan to continue as a K-9 handler. Three years ago he was promoted from patrol to sergeant, which meant more supervising for Bouchard, so less patrolling and less action for his dog.

Auburn police have another K-9, a German shepherd named Rocky, named after Auburn policeman Rocky Bonney who in 1981 drowned trying to save someone.

The hardest part of retiring, for Dutch, likely will begin Friday when Bouchard gets in his police car without his four-legged partner.

“He’s a high-driven dog,” Bouchard said. “When I leave for work, he’s not going to be happy.”


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