FEATURED IN K-9
TUSTIN, Calif. -- One of Tustin's finest four-legged police officers will be calling it quits next month, when Ari, the crime-fighting pooch, retires from the canine unit.
During his six-year stint with the force - which translates to a career of more than four decades, in dog years - Ari has helped Tustin police officers detect methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. His highly trained nose has also been used to track suspects who fled police or the scene of a crime.
"If a guy throws away a gun or a knife, the dog can sniff them out," said Officer Eric Kent, who has been Ari's handler for the past two years.
Ari has quite the continental pedigree. The Belgian shepherd was trained in Slovakia and speaks German.
Kent explained that most police dogs come from European countries such as Holland, Germany and Slovakia, where sport-dog training is popular.
"They all speak different languages, so we don't teach them English commands," Kent said. "We don't want to confuse them."
A fully trained police service dog costs about $20,000, which Kent says saves the department a lot of money in the long run because it allows an officer to go on certain patrols without a (human) partner.
Ari will be replaced by Olaf, a Czech shepherd also from Slovakia. But Olaf speaks Czech, not German, which means Kent will have to learn some new vocabulary. He's not too worried, as it is only about 10 to 15 commands.
Once Ari retires, Kent will become his caretaker, which he says he's happy to do, even though he admits Ari is not the friendliest of dogs.
"In the past two years, we've developed quite a bond," said Kent, who plans to let Ari enjoy his golden years playing with chew toys and with his two Labrador retrievers.
But Kent says that in spite of his age, Ari isn't quite ready to call it quits.
"Every time he sees me getting dressed for work he gets excited," Kent said. "It's going to be a sad day for him, unfortunately."
Police service dog Ari, a Belgian shepherd, will retire from the force at the end of March.