LIMA — At eight years old, Diego is retiring.
The veteran of the Lima Police Department is getting a little soft in the hips from long days of jumping in and out of vehicles, chasing down criminals and sniffing out narcotics. His last day is next Tuesday.
His handler, Officer Amy Glaneman, said Diego hasn’t had a career-defining case, but she estimates thousands of dollars of illegal drugs and guns have been taken off the street because of Diego’s lengthy five-year employment with the city.
The Lima Police Department currently works with four different K-9 units trained in a wide range of scenarios. Outside of the standard drug search, Glaneman and Diego are often sent to situations that could turn dangerous if Diego wasn’t there. The mere presence of a K-9 unit on scene can often diffuse tense interactions. Sometimes, a simple bark from Diego can force individuals to come out of their hiding places with their hands up.
As Glaneman says, “nobody wants to be bitten by a dog.”
Like most of the police department’s canines, Diego comes from Germany through a training facility in Uniopolis. Handlers spend six weeks working and training with their dogs before hitting the streets.
Dogs will then spend almost 24 hours a day with their handlers, living with them off the clock and becoming a family member. When Diego leaves the force, he’ll spend his retirement with Glaneman and her second dog, a 7-month-old golden retriever.
Glaneman said Diego is one of the more obedient out of the four K-9 officers on staff. He’s also one of the more relaxed dogs, able to interact with children without worry or nervousness.
He’s also obsessed with balls — a good trait to have for any K-9 unit. Dogs are rewarded with a toy, a duct-taped rubber hose, when they complete a task. The consistent positive reinforcement keeps them well-trained.
As for Glaneman, she doesn’t plan on applying to be matched up with another K-9 unit once Diego remains at home. Two dogs are already enough, but she will miss his companionship.
“It’s going to be different, because my buddy isn’t going to be in the backseat,” Glaneman said.
But there is at least one benefit for Glaneman — a clean uniform. Diego’s constant shedding and his constant presence means Glaneman is usually covered in a layer of his fur.
“We don’t want to work them until they’re sick. We want them to enjoy retirement,” she said as Diego laid a few feet away, on point and ready to work. “The dogs need time, too. They need a chance to be dogs.
“He’s a good boy.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.