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One K-9 police dog retires in Stamford, another comes on line

December 26, 2018

STAMFORD — City police are getting ready to retire Bobi, the first police dog put into service when the department’s K-9 unit was reactivated in 2009, while an 18-month-old German Shepard named Mac has just become certified to run the city’s streets.

Sgt. Seth O’Brien, who runs the K-9 unit, said he will always remember Bobi for bringing back the K-9 Unit, which had been disassembled for years.

“For me he is the original K-9 (number) 1,” said O’Brien. “He was a willing worker and even in his older years became very adaptive. He was one of the sharper dogs.”

Mac, who is the fourth dog in the unit, was trained in house by Stamford police officers. He apparently is as enthusiastic as he is young. During a meet and greet at Columbus Park Monday morning, Mac had bit of a hard time staying on the ground and would jump up when given a chance in a happy, non-menacing way.

But when his handler, officer Dave Dogali, 50, told Mac “down” the dog would return to all-fours, with his long tongue out.

Dogali, who also handled Bobi, and will continue care for him in his retirement, remembered his first dog fondly.

“Bobi was a hard worker, hard driven. He was very protective of me,” he said while holding Mac on a leash in the park.

Dogali said it is unusual for a dog to last so long in police service.

“Nine years is very long for a dog. I was very fortunate with Bobi. I had a great long run with him,” Dogali said, adding that a police department usually is lucky to get five good years out of a working dog.

Bobi did excellent work through his very last track. Near the beginning of the month Bobi had been called to Darien to find a woman who police believed might have been in trouble. He was put on the scent at the last place the woman was reported to have been seen and he led Dogali through a number of back yards until they came to the woman’s home.

There, Bobi circled next to the front door, indicating that she was there. Sure enough, she was, safe and sound.

Looking down at his new ward, Dogali said Mac, who has been on the job for a few weeks, is still still young and playful. Mac is trained to do building searches, apprehensions and area searches and to recover evidence and detect narcotics.

As Dogali spoke, Mac kept nudging Dogali’s right pants pocket with his nose. “That is what he lives and dies for,” said Dogali, as he pulled out a yellow ball tied to a short hank of rope with a small wooden handle for Dogali.

The shepherd quickly snapped at the ball as Dogali dangled it and pulled back. Soo the two began a tug of war. Mac gets to play with the ball when he completes his tasks.

O’Brien called Mac the “perfect” shepherd because he is young and very social, while he still has a serious side and is willing to work.

Dogali said having Mac and Bobi at his home is no easy task. The two, both alpha dogs, don’t mix and are kept away from each other.

“Both of them want to be alphas, so why let one feel down and the other up? I let them both feel like they are the top dog,” Dogali said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com

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