Updated: 03/17/2014 6:19 PM
Created: 03/17/2014 4:16 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
The Superior Police Department will soon have a new K9 patrolling the streets. The 15-month-old pup will go through 12 weeks of training before he can fill the shoes of the veteran K9 retired last month.
At nine years old, Blek is easing into retired life, slowly but surely.
"He still gets a little anxious when I go to work. He is still looking for the squad car that's parked in the yard," said officer Todd Maas, Blek's handler.
With Blek's retirement, Maas is stepping down as a K9 officer and returning to patrol. Blek is now a full-time family dog in the Maas home.
Over eight years, Maas and Blek have built quite the bond.
"He almost knows what I'm thinking sometimes, just because we've been together so long," said Maas. "The emotions certainly go down the leash and he can feel when I'm anxious...he knows when to turn his game on."
Blek has been quite the K9, too.
"I've had him climb a 10-foot ladder once on a ship," explained Maas.
In 2009, Blek received the Criminal Apprehension of the Year award from the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Handler's Association after he apprehended an attempted homicide suspect. Maas said Blek saved him from having to use deadly force.
Maas said sometimes it only takes a dog's presence to deter a suspect from running, and when they apprehend a suspect it is powerful.
For many years, the Superior Police Department lacked a K9 unit, but Deputy Chief Nicholas Alexander said Maas was key in bringing the program back.
"Todd's done a great job at rejuvenating the K9 program for the department, and now he's passing the reins to Nick Eastman and the new dog Marik," said Alexander.
The AMSOIL Northland K9 Foundation has been influential in keeping K9 units alive, too. The group was formed last year to help provide funding for current and future K9 units for the Duluth and Superior Police Departments, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, and the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department.
15-month-old Marik has one curious nose. Marik and his handler, officer Nicholas Eastman, just finished their second week of training down in St. Paul.
"We've done a lot of obedience training, we've done a lot of agility, tracking and the suspect apprehension the bite work," Eastman explained.
The bonding part, they already have down.
"He's great with my kids, he's great with my wife, but he always want to know where I am," he said.
Marik is a black short-haired German Shepherd. He will be a dual-purpose K9, trained in human apprehension and narcotics detection. Eastman is already impressed with his work.
"It's exciting watching them work because they turn on that drive, you know, they want to achieve that goal and then it's time to relax and it's puppy life again," said Eastman.
Eastman and Marik have 10 more weeks of training. After graduation on May 22, the new K9 unit will be out patrolling the streets.
Currently, the AMSOIL Northland K9 Foundation supports 10 dogs between the four departments. With a new K9 costing up to $15,000 initially, the foundation is always looking for financial support. To find out more or donate click here or head to their Facebook page.
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