Retirement doesn't come easily to drug dog

K-9 Officer Lucy had just wrapped up her eight-year career with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office when her handler, Deputy Bryan Sanchez, got one more request from the Nevada Highway Patrol.

It was 1:45 p.m. on March 18 and he and Deputy David Cadwallader were dispatched to Highway 395 and Spring Valley Road for an agency assist.

"I had just typed in the computer that K-9 Officer Lucy was officially retired when we got the request for a drug canine," Sanchez said.

For Lucy's last case, she turned up a purple Crown Royal bag with marijuana buds, a pipe with burnt marijuana residue and a lighter.

"It was a good way for her to go out," Sanchez said.

"I took her home that night and cooked her a steak," Sanchez said. "At first she didn't know what to make of it."

While she was on the job, Lucy couldn't indulge in such luxuries.

"She has to be able to go into a situation where there might be food lying around. She had to have the discipline and training to leave it alone in case there could be something bad in it," Sanchez said.

Lucy, a 10-year-old black Labrador, is having a tough time adjusting to retirement.

"She still wants to go," Sanchez said.

He misses her, too.

"She had a big bark and would let me know if somebody was behind me. Sometimes the suspects were more scared of her than they were of the deputies," Sanchez said.

Lucy had quite a successful career with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

She was assigned to Sgt. Phil Lesquereux in 2002 and was certified by the California Narcotic Canine Association. While Lesquereux was a K9 handler, he trained 300 hours with Lucy in the detection of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and opium.

She was responsible for the detection and seizure of 200 grams of cocaine, 200 grams of methamphetamine and 20 pounds of marijuana.

When Lesquereux transferred to investigations in 2004, Lucy was assigned to Sanchez.

Since they were certified, Lucy has trained an additional 1,300 hours with Sanchez. She has been responsible for the detection and seizure of approximately 300 grams of marijuana, 111 grams of cocaine, 8.6 grams of hashish, three grams of heroin and 490 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

Lucy was certified every year with her handler by the California Narcotic Canine Association.

"She was a great dog," Sanchez said. "With her drive, she always wanted to work a little harder. She loved what she was doing. We just wanted to help the public and get drugs off the street."

Sanchez said he noticed Lucy slowing down a bit, indicating it was time for her to retire.

"I noticed a change in her at the last certification in Modesto," Sanchez said. "The heat was getting to her, but she still wanted to go at it."

Lucy is now at home with Sanchez, his wife Tina and their son Bryan Jr., 17, and the family's other dogs.

Last week Sanchez and his son took Lucy to Kid Pix for some official photos. Lucy wouldn't settle down until she sniffed out every square foot in the Minden business.

"Honestly, they make the greatest pets," he said of Lucy in her new role.

Sanchez wanted to thank the sheriff's office, the school district and principals, Lucy's groomer, her veterinarian, trainer and Kal Kan foods for their contributions toward keeping her busy and healthy.

"I took her to all the schools in Douglas County and to schools in Mono and Alpine counties and Hawthorne. She put on hundreds of demonstrations," he said. "A lot of the kids would come up and pet her afterwards. She was always excited."


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