Buddy, Juneau Police Department’s narcotics dog, plays in a snow pile outside of the Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Buddy, Juneau Police Department’s narcotics dog, plays in a snow pile outside of the Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

K-9 keeps nose to grindstone as he nears retirement

Buddy continues to play a critical role in drug control in Juneau

After eight years of a law enforcement career, a dogged officer is getting ready to kick up his paws for retirement.

Buddy, a 9-year-old German shepherd, has been Juneau Police Department’s single-purpose narcotics dog since 2015, and over his eight-year stint with the department, he has played a critical role in drug control in Juneau alongside his longtime handler, JPD Officer Mike Wise.

Since birth, Buddy has been annually certified and trained to detect methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and derivatives, including synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, while being able to ignore things like marijuana, which has been legal in Alaska since 2015 following a 2014 vote. He also is trained to disregard common deterrents used by smugglers like mustard and mayo. Since his addition to the department, it’s estimated that Buddy has assisted in the seizure of around $15 million worth of narcotics.

In recent weeks, Buddy helped alert police to what was discovered to be 77 grams of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of approximately $26,500 in mid-February and again alerted police to 30 grams of heroin with an estimated street value of approximately $9,000 just days later.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Buddy sniffs a fire extinguisher cabinet with narcotics hidden inside for training at Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire Buddy sniffs a fire extinguisher cabinet with narcotics hidden inside for training at Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon.

Before Buddy joined JPD, more than 20 years passed in which the department’s canine program remained inactive. Now, Buddy has his own kennel “office” just outside of the department.

“A K-9’s role in drug detection is huge,” said JPD spokesperson Lt. Krag Campbell. “Not having that tool limits some of our ability to combat the flow of drugs in our community.”

Buddy and Wise work together day in and day out to keep his nose in tip-top shape, and the pair work closely with the Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs task force, a regional anti-drug task force composed of municipal police departments across Southeast Alaska.

Wise described Buddy as a great dog to work with on duty, and described his off-duty personality as “just a bit different,” he said, laughing.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Buddy sits in front of a fire extinguisher cabinet to notify his handler that narcotics are hidden inside it.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire Buddy sits in front of a fire extinguisher cabinet to notify his handler that narcotics are hidden inside it.

Campbell and Wise said because of the success the department has found with having Buddy, JPD is already preparing for his replacement come ahead of Buddy’s planned retirement scheduled for later this year. Not to worry, his replacement will be on a tight leash.

Buddy will continue to live with Wise and his family after retirement alongside the new JPD K-9, Dax, an 8-month-old yellow lab, set to make his way to Juneau from North Carolina and begin his duties within the next six months to a year.

Dax will be certified in all narcotics that Buddy is, and additionally is being trained to detect phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP, and methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA, along with being skilled as a trailing dog.

Wise said he’s excited for Buddy to live out the rest of his life as “just a dog” and to begin his work with his next K-9 partner.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Buddy chews on his “reward” for successfully alerting his handler to narcotics hidden for training at Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire Buddy chews on his “reward” for successfully alerting his handler to narcotics hidden for training at Juneau Police Station Tuesday afternoon.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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