Meet Milton's new top dog - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Meet Milton's new top dog

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PITTSFORD, Vt. -

Dogs are known as man's best friend. But Hatchi is working to be known as a dog that saves lives. Officer Jason Porter works for the Milton Police Department and is the first officer to receive a K-9 partner. Hatchi is a 13-month-old German shepherd who was donated by Milton's Pinebrook Kennels.

"His father is a German shepherd from the Netherlands; his mother is a German shepherd who worked for the Royal Canadian Mountain Police. They were bred at a breeder's in Massachusetts," Porter said.

Hatchi was hand-picked out of 25 dogs to work with Porter, and will spend 16 weeks at the police academy in Pittsford before being search and rescue, and narcotics certified.

"They need to do 15 or 20 minutes worth of obedience with them every single day, basic obedience, finding someone to lay a track for them," said Robert Ryan, the K-9 training coordinator.

"Obviously, there's a lot of pressure to make sure it all works out," Porter said. "And it's one of those things where you can look at a dog and you can think a dog is great, and until you start doing the training, you never know exactly how it's going to work out."

But this energetic dog doesn't seem worried about not making the cut. He's focused on learning skills he'll need on the job.

"His tracking we're working a little extra on, but he's starting to get that down," Ryan said.

The department budgeted $17,000 for the new addition to the team, but got help from the community. Since Hatchi was donated, it saved the department nearly $7,000. The kennel has also helped with food and vaccinations.

In addition to training, the police pair must bond and learn to trust each other.

"They're like your best friend. He's with me 24/7. I go to the grocery store, he comes with me. He lives with me; he's with me 24/7. So, the thought of not having him around would probably be the worst thing," Porter said.

And who says police work can't be fun?

"When they're doing tracking for people, it's a hide and seek game for them; it's something they enjoy doing," Ryan said. "Most of the shepherds were bred to do stuff like that, so it's fun for them."

Hatchi and Officer Porter still have a few more weeks before heading out into the field, but until then, the team is learning how to watch each other's backs.

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