By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – While she’s still relatively new to the force, Grapeland’s newest police officer is already on the street fighting crime and helping to bring down the bad guys.
Her name is Roxy, she’s a little over a year old, a commissioned peace officer and is a Scottish Deer Hound mix.
Roxy’s handler is GPD Officer Carly Tullis and she sat down with The Messenger to discuss her partner and what is involved with being a K-9 officer.
“It’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I love dogs so it was given I wanted to do this. Lt. (Ronnie) Howell is actually the one who got us into the program. He got in touch with Universal K-9 in San Antonio and we both went to school there,” she said.
While at the school, Grapeland PD was presented with Roxy.
“We were actually supposed to get a Blue Heeler, but they wound up giving away the Blue Heeler to another class and we wound up with her instead,” Tullis explained.
While many people think of German Shepherds or the Belgian Malinois as the dog of choice for police departments, Tullis explained almost any dog could be trained to be a police dog.
“They say it’s possible,” she said. “In the class I went to, there were six Pit Bulls and Roxy – our Scottish Deer Hound mix. In the class before, I believe they had a Poodle, the Blue Heeler and several other different breeds. They were all rescue dogs.”
Asked to elaborate on what makes a good police dog, Tullis said the key was if the dog had a strong “toy drive.”
“Any dog with a toy drive is a good candidate. One of the tests that Roxy went through, after she was rescued, was to see if she could find her toy when it was hidden, just about anywhere. They could bury it, hide it behind bushes or anyplace else, she would find it. If they put it in a bucket, she didn’t have any issues putting her head in a bucket. Some dogs get freaked out by that,” she said.
The police officer also gave a brief background sketch on her partner.
“She came from a shelter in North Carolina before she was adopted by the rescue. When she was at the shelter, her name was Roxs. Whenever she got to the rescue, they renamed her Roxy and it’s stuck ever since,” Tullis said.
Tullis said Roxy was 11 months old when the GPD acquired her in June of this year and is still a work in progress.
“Whenever we got Roxy – she can find drugs and she can find people – she had only been trained for a couple of months. She is new. I can hide anything and she can find it, that’s not the issue. The issue is her focus isn’t quite there yet. We have a long way to go to get her where I want her,” she said.
She explained while Roxy was doing a good job “… she just still has a lot of puppy in her. Puppies are going to be puppies. I need to get her out of the puppy phase and she’ll be fine. Whenever she went to Universal K-9, they trained her on what she need to be trained on, but they didn’t train her on discipline.”
Asked about Roxy’s rank in the department, Tullis said the K-9 was a corporal.
“She’s one rank higher than me. It’s like that with all K-9s. They are always one rank higher than their handler. That comes from the military. Military working dogs have a higher rank than their handler, as well. In the military, you treat your higher ups with respect and you have to do things a certain way. That’s why the dog is placed at that level. If you don’t treat them that way, you will be reprimanded,” she said.
“It’s to make sure you treat them with the respect they deserve. She will always be one rank higher than me. So yes, this is Cpl. Roxy,” Tullis said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.