Rossi, Sundgaard take top honors at K-9 trials
BAXTER--When Gator retired--leaving a legacy of awards and effective police work--it was unknown if the K-9 pup picked as his successor would live up to the past.
BAXTER-When Gator retired-leaving a legacy of awards and effective police work-it was unknown if the K-9 pup picked as his successor would live up to the past.
But Rossi, another Belgian Malinois working for the city, is already making his mark. In June, the now-grown Rossi and his partner Officer Joe Sundgaard participated in their first U.S. Police Canine Association Region 12 Police Dog Trials in Alexandria.
There were 102 teams participating in the trials, including dog teams from the Twin Cities.
Sundgaard and Rossi took first place in the Rookie Dog Team honors competing against about 20 other teams and second place in criminal apprehension out of all the dog teams.
Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted recognized the K-9 team in front of the city council Tuesday, July 3.
"It was quite an honor," Exsted said of the trial results, noting the hard work paid off.
He said two years ago the department made the decision to move forward with its K-9 program but going forward in a different manner than was usually done. There was some risk in that, Exsted said. To make it work they needed a little bit of luck, dedication and hard work, Exsted said, adding the team made it work. They picked the pup with help of Pat Pickar, utilizing his experience as a K-9 handler. Picking the puppy is where a bit of luck comes in, Exsted said but from that moment on it was the team's hard work.
Rossi worked with Sgt. Matt Maier and Gator for many months before the elder dog's retirement. Through the process they later transitioned to Sundgaard as the K-9 handler working with Rossi. All of their training work led up to the trials in Alexandria. They chose to opt out of a mini-trial to wait for the main event.
Officer Taylor Halverson joined the team as a runner for Rossi's training and Exsted said Halverson was a really good addition, bringing a lot of energy to the team.
"Rossi appreciated it, too, I know," he said. "They got to the trials and did really well. It's a team effort."
Exsted thanked the council for its support and the K-9 team for knocking it out of the park.
Gator was such a decorated K-9 working with Maier, there was a measure of the unknown and amount of concern when his career ended. Gator continues to live with Maier.
When Gator retired, his trophy case was overflowing with honors. Now Rossi is starting his own collection.