Two alpha males compete to be the top dog.
It’s been that way since New Castle police officer Terry Dolquist met his new partner, Chico.
However, when it comes to drug detection and tracking bad guys, Chico is the man.
The 4-year-old, brindle-colored Dutch shepherd joined the city’s K-9 unit in late October but officially reported for duty Dec. 16. That was the day Dolquist returned to work after serving one year in Iraq with the Army National Guard.
Prior to that, the two spent time training, bonding — and proving who’s boss.
“Basically, it’s getting him to know he needs to listen to me,” Dolquist said. “He’s doing good. He’s feisty. We’ve had a few little battles, but we’re OK.
“He’ll jump up and snip me. He’s given me little bites before, but we pretty much have gotten him out of that now,” he said. “It’s just new environments, new people, new trainer, new handler. The dog sometimes gets frustrated until he figures out, ‘Hey, this is my dad. This is who I’m going to be with all the time.’ ”
Dolquist, who joined the city police department in 1998, became a member of its K-9 unit in 2006 and partnered with Indy, a German shepherd.
The two remained a team until Dolquist left Oct. 19, 2008, for Iraq. A specialist assigned to the 107th in New Castle, Dolquist was called to service with the 1-108th HHB field artillery, which is part of the 56th Stryker Brigade of Carlisle, Pa.
“I was actually in-country for 7 1/2 months. The rest of the time I was in training,” he said, noting his stops at Fort Polk, La., and Camp Shelby in Mississippi before heading overseas.
While in Iraq, he operated computers that controlled artillery guns miles away from his command center. Back home, Indy’s future was in limbo.
“With Terry being off for a year, we couldn’t let the dog sit,” police Chief Thomas Sansone explained. “It would be pretty much worthless a year later. So, I’d either have to retrain with Terry or retrain with another r and get it on the street quicker.”
However, another issue came into play.
“(He) ended up having a minor health problem that would slow down his career here,” Sansone said. “I made the decision to retire him after receiving word from the vet.”
Dolquist planned to keep the 7-year-old Indy but being his caregiver half a world away proved impossible. So, Indy temporarily moved in with Dolquist’s father-in-law, Bo DeCarbo, a state police dispatcher. That arrangement became permanent.
“Those two are inseparable,” Dolquist said. “I wasn’t about to break that up.”
Yet, he wanted to remain with the K-9 unit. The problem was no money, no dog.
Sansone had to deliver the bad news.
“I said with the city in the financial condition that it’s in, I don’t see us purchasing one. We just can’t. So he asked me if he found some donors, would I let him do it. I said, ‘No problem here.’
“That’s what happened. He solicited some donations and some very nice people came forward and gave us some money we needed so we could buy the dog and go through the training.”
LENDING A PAW
A police dog costs between $10,000 to $12,000, depending on its training and lineage, Dolquist noted.
He began soliciting funds — even had some doors slammed in his face — but he was determined to get the department another drug detection and patrol dog.
His perseverance paid off thanks to contributions from Ed & Don DeCarbo Crematory Inc., Mr. Pizza, Mount Jackson Chiropractor Center, the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s LEAPS program and attorney Dallas Hartman.
Like Indy and some other members of the K-9 unit, Chico came from Tri-State Canine Services in Warren, Ohio, which specializes in training police dogs. Tri-State owner and trainer, Dave Blosser, is also a police officer and K-9 handler for the Fowler Township Police Department in Trumbull County.
“Indy was a lot more passive than this dog,” Dolquist said. “Chico is just energy like you wouldn’t believe. He is just crazy, and that’s why he does little nippings because he is so high strung.
“He doesn’t grab me and start tearing my arm up. He’ll just nip me. He hasn’t broken the skin yet. He’s cut my tour jacket once.”
Chico, who lives with Dolquist, has a kennel and a heated room specially built for him.
“He stays outside because I have two other dogs in the house. Dogs like him are alpha dogs and they’re real dog-aggressive, so we just keep them apart.”
Dolquist expressed concern bringing Chico to the police station for the first time.
“I didn’t know how he would be,” he said. “When I brought him to work and introduced him to everybody, he literally jumped up, put his front paws against their chest and licked their faces.
“Me, he bites. Everybody else, he licks their faces,” he said, laughing. “He’s a big baby, but when he gets into his zone and he knows he’s working, look out.”
Before the two reported to work, they spent weeks training, tracking and testing each other.
“This dog was more raw than our other ones because we got them already partially trained,” Sansone said.
Both Sansone and Dolquist are pleased with his progress. His first find was in an East Side residence.
“He already hit on some narcotics,” Sansone said. “He’s working out pretty well.”
Dolquist works with Chico daily, putting down tracks to keep him sharp on drug detection. “He’s better than 90 percent each time.”
Chico uses passive indication when he locates narcotics. He tracks the drugs, then sits and stares.
“He won’t move,” Dolquist said. “Then I have to give him his (toy). He thinks he’s looking for that. When he smells those drugs, he thinks that’s his toy because his toy always pops out of there somehow.
“He’s on narcotics and patrol, which means he can track people, he can search houses for people who have broken in and are hiding inside. If someone attacks me, he will bite them. If there’s someone trying to flee a scene and we can’t catch him on foot, the dog will pull him down and hold him until we get there.
“As long as he follows that scent of whatever I got him trying to track, he thinks his toy is there,” he continued. “So when we do it in the real world, he’s still thinks, ‘Oh, my toy is at the end of this.’ But instead, we find the bad guy.”
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