ASHLAND – Wherever Joe Baudler goes, Remi goes too.
The human-canine pair goes together to the bank, the gym, the market and especially, the crime scene.
Remi, a two-year old golden retriever, is Ashland’s new drug dog. Remi is trained to detect four drug odors: cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Baudler said he hopes the state of Nebraska does not legalize marijuana any time soon because “that would really screw up Remi’s tenure.”
Remi, which is short for Remington, also goes by the nickname McGruff, a reference to the police dog cartoon character. She was donated to the department.
Baudler, who has been Ashland police chief since 2013, said he grew up with hunting dogs. His last family dog was a chocolate Labrador.
“You can train any dog,” said Baudler. “But it’s better if the dog has a high hunt drive that you can harness.”
The more intelligent the dog, the harder it is to keep them honest, he explained.
“A really smart dog will cheat. They learn how to read the human teaching them and how to play the game and get the treat rather than doing the work,” he said.
Baudler said he knew right away Remi would become a competent drug dog by how quickly she learned the commands.
“She picked it up real fast,” he said.
Training drug dogs is time consuming, he said. Handlers train the dogs by a hide-and-seek method. Basically, the dogs learn to find the odor-soaked object, sit down next to it and look at the handler.
Remi’s training in Omaha lasted about six weeks. She started her job with the police department in November.
Baudler said the training never really stops. During the recent holiday break, Baudler said he used the Ashland-Greenwood High School hallways and parking lot to continue to train Remi.
“We train all the time,” he said. “There’s no set guidelines. She likes to work and it’s good for her to stay active and sharp.”
Training Remi requires hiding the drug scent and teaching her to sit and look at her trainer once she has located the odor.
Baudler said bomb dogs, which are often Labradors, are trained to detect nine odors. He said more golden retrievers are being used by the Transportation Safety Authority to monitor airport security.
Ashland’s previous drug dog, Frank, a brindle Dutch Shepherd, was overweight and had prostate problems. Frank had trouble getting in
and out of the police cruiser despite the skateboard ramp custom made for him. These issues forced Frank’s retirement from the force.
Fortunately, Frank now lives with Brandy Hulett, police secretary.
“She’ll bring him into work and we’ll have competitions between the two dogs to see who can find the drugs first,” Baudler said.
“Remi loves people,” he said while petting Remi’s head and ears. “Remi’s great for a small town. She’s super good with kids and doesn’t bite.”