Aware of every sound, person, and activity in the neighborhood – especially birds – as he stands with Orange Police Department Officer Mike Osborn on a recent Friday morning, the young, energetic dog seems eager and alert.
His attentiveness (along with his large size) is one of the reasons the Orange Police Department’s K9 team selected him from Adlerhorst International Police K-9 Academy in Riverside on Jan. 22.
“He seems like he’s looking to work,” Osborn said. “He’s always focused on stuff.”
The purchase of Wyatt was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Orange, boosting the Orange Police Department’s K9s to three. The agency hasn’t had three police dogs since 2011.
“It will allow for more coverage of shifts with a (third) K9 available to assist patrol,” Osborn said.
This is the first time Osborn, who has been with the Orange Police Department for nearly 12 years, has been a K9 handler. For the last couple of years he’s been volunteering as an agitator, or decoy, donning a bite suit so that the K9s can practice apprehensions.
“You get bit a whole lot – you’re a chew toy,” he said.
In order to become a K9 officer, Osborn underwent a testing process through the agency, including an oral interview in front of a panel.
On Jan. 29, Osborn and Wyatt begin a six-week K9 School at Adlerhorst, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of K9 police work. Wyatt will first train solely as a suspect apprehension dog. Down the line, the plan is for him to be trained for evidence and narcotics searches as well, Osborn said.
Osborn is slowly introducing Wyatt to his new home and everyone who lives in it, including Osborn’s wife, two children, and three small rescue beagles. Osborn built Wyatt a kennel with a roof in his own yard, separate from the beagles. He’ll eventually integrate Wyatt with the rest of the family, once he settles in.
“Everybody loves him,” Osborn said.
A dog owner all his life, he’s had many different breeds of dogs, but this is his first German shepherd.
“I love police work … and I love dogs,” he said. “I’ve always had an interest in training dogs for a working purpose.”
Osborn and Wyatt will start patrolling the city in mid-March.
“He’s been good. Seems happy. Acts like a puppy,” Osborn said. “Everybody says it’s the best job in the world. So far, I agree – it’s only been a week.”