Big paws to fill: Ardmore Police Department K-9 Boss retires after four years
For the past four years, Ardmore Police Department K-9 Officer Jared Johnson and his K-9, Boss, have been an inseparable team. As Boss goes into retirement at the beginning of next month, he is leaving behind quite a legacy.
Since 2017, Boss has had approximately 782 hours worth of training in obedience, tracking, narcotics and apprehension work, and has helped affect the arrest of over 215 subjects. As a K-9 Officer, Johnson said he and Boss would always get called to some of the most exciting calls, or “hot calls,” including pursuits, burglaries and narcotic investigations.
“Everybody expects the dog to be able to perform and be able to find their guy that ran from them, track down the robbery suspect, apprehend the guy that just ran from the pursuit,” Johnson said. Boss is accredited with locating 15 ounces of methamphetamine, 25 grams of cocaine, 15 grams of heroin and 13 pounds of marijuana.
The duo was recognized as the K-9 Team of the Year for region four in Oklahoma at the 2019 Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers Awards Banquet. The award stemmed from a routine traffic stop in February, 2019 that yielded almost $370,000 in drug money.
Boss had a positive alert to the vehicle and though there were no narcotics found in the vehicle, Johnson discovered $10,000 hidden in the car in a sock. Officers later discovered a total of $357,720 in a false floor in the bottom of the vehicle.
At the time, APD Detective Eric Grisham said he believed the money was likely payment for dropping narcotics at an unknown destination — marking the largest seizure of drug money in southern Oklahoma to date.
“I was pretty excited when we found all the money— that was a pretty exciting moment,” Johnson said. “That’s definitely one of the biggest accomplishments for me and for him. That’s one of the largest drug smuggling busts we’ve had here.”
Johnson said the awards and accomplishments he has shared with Boss have been amazing, but nothing really beats some of the moments behind the scenes, where Boss is just being a regular dog.
“With Boss I got pretty lucky— he can flip a switch,” Johnson said. “He knows when it’s time to go to work and he knows when it’s time to go into school and let all of the kids pet and play on him and stuff. Not all dogs can do that so that’s definitely an awesome trait that he has.”
Taking Boss to some of the area schools and seeing the smiles he brings to the children’s faces has been one of the most rewarding parts of their time together, Johnson said.
“The accomplishments are awesome, but at the same time, just letting him be a figure out in the public, getting to meet these kids and showing them that police dogs are awesome,” Johnson said. “They play their role but they can also be compassionate.”
There are countless moments Johnson said he looks back on and thinks, “Man those were some good times,” even when he’s being drug through the mud as Boss chases after a suspect. With a K-9 partner, Johnson always had Boss there for backup and to help brighten his day.
“Any K-9 handler will tell you that you could sit there and have conversations all day long. It’s fun having somebody in the car with you,” Johnson said. “ He’s always right there ready to go, jumping out of the car if I need him to.”
Around 20 to 30 years ago, police dogs were bred and trained in a way where civilians would not want to go up and pet them, Johnson said. But, today, police departments look for a more balanced temperament like Boss’, where he can recognize when it’s time to work and when it’s okay to be social.
The dogs go through strenuous training to even be selected to be a part of a K-9 team and complete regular training exercises each week.
“All three of our dogs are outstanding and all three of the handlers are pretty close and we strive to have the best dogs in southern Oklahoma, there’s no doubt about that,” Johnson said. “We really take our training seriously and try to make sure that our dogs are attentive and ready for anything."
Retirement is decided on a case by case basis. At the Ardmore Police Department, the handler gets to decide when it’s time for the dog to retire. For Johnson, it came down to Boss’s health, whereas he was starting to experience a few issues.
“Instead of continuing to work him and kind of run him into the ground, I’d rather retire him and let him enjoy being a dog,” Johnson said. “For so long they’re set on work mode. It will take him a little while to get out of that because he loves coming to work.”
The rest of Boss’s days will soon be spent taking naps and running around Johnson’s backyard. “He’s definitely done his job and had plenty of accomplishments, he’s an old man,” Johnson said.
After Boss officially retires at the beginning of October, K-9 Riggs will be filling his shoes. Johnson said Riggs is currently staying at his home and still has a bit of training left before he’s ready to hit the streets.
“He’s got some big shoes to fill because Boss has done a lot of cool stuff, helped a lot of people and made a lot of kid smile and pretty happy when they got to meet him,” Johnson said.