When Sgt. Travis Lyon readies for his shifts with Blair police, Duke, the Blair Police Department's K9 for the last 9 ½ years, is there ready to work.
“He still notices the uniform when I put it on,” Lyon said. “I think he's that type of dog that that will never go away for him. It's always work for him.”
But Duke can relax as the police dog officially retired Oct. 31.
Duke, a 10 1/2-year-old, 70-pound, Belgian Malinois, was trained as a dual-purpose police dog for patrol and narcotic searches. His skills included handler protection, suspect apprehension, evidence searches and narcotics detection. He maintained yearly certifications in those areas.
Lyon and Duke had also given demonstrations for schools, businesses and community events during his time with the department.
But Lyon said it was time for Duke to retire.
“His heart is still in it, but his physical abilities are fading,” Lyon said.
Duke's retirement is also a change for Lyon, who has served as a dog handler for nearly 17 years with Duke and the department's first police dog, Teka. A new officer will take over the role in the future, while Lyon will remain a patrol sergeant.
“It's been almost 17 years and to think now, as a dog handler, it's done, but the opportunity for another officer to take over and learn the trade is going to be good for them,” he said.
Lyon thanked the community for its support, law enforcement agencies that assisted in training and Dr. David Johnson with Blair Small Animal Clinic who has provided veterinarian care for Duke and Teka.
Blair Police Chief Joe Lager commended Lyon and Duke for their service.
“We (city and police) have been so fortunate to have Travis, Teka and Duke,” Lager said. “Their 17-year run will probably never be duplicated.”
Duke, meanwhile, is adjusting to life as a family pet. With last week's warm weather, Lyon said Duke enjoyed free reign of the backyard, and may someday realize he can just be a dog.
“At one point he rolled on his back and had his belly scratched for 10 to 15 minutes and then got up and went to his dog house. 'OK. I'm done,'” Lyon said. “That's still just his personality.”
The Blair City Council is expected to approve an agreement transferring ownership of Duke to Lyon.