by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer
About a year and a half ago, in September of 2013, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Mike Fairbanks began his partnership with K-9 Si.
“A position came open in the DNR,” said Fairbanks. “I applied for it and went through the process before being accepted. They let me handle the dog that was imported from Slovakia.”
Most of the dogs used in the K-9 law enforcement services are imported. Unusual demands are placed on the canines that work in law enforcement. They need to be high energy dogs with drive and confidence to complete the assigned missions and they need to be fearless and obedient.
There are quality breeders in the U.S., but most of them prefer to sell the dogs as puppies. Law enforcement agencies prefer to hand-pick one or two dogs from a litter when they are at least about a year old.
Fairbanks told the students at the King School DARE class that he named the dog after Uncle Si on “Duck Dynasty” because that was someone that most everybody knew. “It’s an easy name to relate to,” said Fairbanks, who goes to all of the King DARE classes with Si and on Feb. 19 assisted the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office DARE instructors by helping out at the Grand Rapids Middle School DARE class.
“After I got Si,” said Fairbanks, “we went through a 12-week police dog schooling course. That includes training in people tracking, officer protection, criminal apprehension, obedience and agility. After that, we had to go through another four-week course for fish and game detection.”
Si is a dual purpose canine. “He does apprehension, as well as detection,” said Fairbanks. “But, instead of drug detection like other law enforcement canines do, he does fish and game detection. And, when the day’s work is done he comes home with me.”
K-9 dogs usually live with their assigned handler and their family and Si is no exception to that standard. “Our relationship is one that has a solid bond,” said Fairbanks, “and that is the biggest part of our partnership while we are working or when we are home. Si lives with me and my family and he gets along very well with all of the kids at the house, which currently numbers seven, and all of the other pets in our family.”
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