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Old dog is through with new tricks

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Rudy isn't asking a lot out of retirement.

He's content with a little green space, some nap time and an occasional treat to munch in the sun.Of course if his owner, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Shaun Adamson, wants to throw in some play time re-creating the days when he would find a packet of drugs and have to tussle to keep it, that's OK with him.

Rudy is a newly retired Utah County sheriff's K-9 patrol dog.

After nearly a dozen years on the job, arthritis and old age are taking Rudy off the beat.

So while his ears still perk up at the scent of a call-out and he's willing to hang on forever to the "toy" he finds in a search, his haunches just can't take it. He yelps now if he's asked to jump into the truck. Running hard hurts.

"They need a place to retire," Adamson said, who's taken Rudy into his home, taking on his medical and veterinary expenses at the same time.

He paid the county $1 to get Rudy and although he hadn't been one of Rudy's handlers, he cares deeply about rewarding Rudy properly for his years of service.

"Here he gets a yard and a lot of love and a toy now and then. Sometimes he gets a dog treat for absolutely nothing."

Rudy has more than paid his dues, Adamson said. He's worked drug, evidence and suspect searches since he was a 2-year-old brought on with the patrol as a narcotics dog in 1987.

He's a golden-haired Belgian Malinoise with a considerable amount of toughness and spirit.

"He's been and had the reputation of being a little cantankerous in the past, sometimes known as Rudy Rude Dog." Adamson said. "But that's part of what makes him such a good police dog. We take their natural drives and build on them. He's just a real strong police dog who's always been taught he's the toughest thing around and he believes it.

"He's just a good old boy."

Adamson believes it's hard on a police dog to retire gracefully from the force. A retired female dog he owned previously used to start spinning and agitating when she heard him load his handgun.

"She knew something was up. She wanted to go with me."

Rudy is watching a new Dutch-titled and certified Politiehond 3-year-old dog, Jardon, come in.

Currently, they share Adamson's yard in American Fork.

Purchased in Holland for $4,800, Jardon will now begin intensive training in detection. He'll join the other four K-9 patrol dogs on hunts for suspects, drugs and evidence around the county.

"The dogs work hard for us," Adamson said. And all for a rolled-up piece of jute, a tennis ball or a stick. . . . Oh, yes - and also the handler's approval.

"Anytime they get to play, it's a happy time for them."

Adamson is happy to have Rudy, as are the two teen boys who live with him. "The alternative would have been to put him to sleep and I suppose that'll come soon enough. He's old in dog years. He's an old man. He just wants to retire.

"He tried to jump up on my bed the other night and just couldn't get up there."