`My partner and my dog'

State police in Perryville dedicate stone monument to Trooper -- golden retriever, ace drug-sniffer

April 27, 2008|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

For eight years, Trooper sniffed for drugs on Interstate 95, helping the Maryland State Police seize more than a ton of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.

The golden retriever with big brown eyes, floppy ears and spotted tongue was always excited about work, state troopers said. After an arrest, he would even trot into the room as the suspect was processed.

Whenever his owner, Trooper 1st Class Colleen McCurdy, got ready for work and put her gun in the holster, the golden retriever would wait for her at the door.

"Trooper gave more than 110 percent everyday to me, to our team, to the agency," McCurdy said. "He loved to come to work."

Dedicating a stone

To remember Trooper, who died in January, officers dedicated a memorial stone at the JFK Highway Barracks in Perryville where he worked.

The stone, which was purchased through donations, reads: "He was my partner and my dog. He was faithful and true until the last beat of his heart."

In a ceremony held Thursday, several police dogs were brought from Baltimore City, Wicomico County and Harford County to say goodbye. There was even a moment of silence and a bagpiper.

After the stone was unveiled, each of the eight canine teams paid their respects.

Described as a "wonder dog," Trooper scanned vehicles and searched buildings, finding more than 1,600 pounds of marijuana, 661 pounds of cocaine, 71 pounds of heroin and more than 22,175 ecstasy pills, according to state police.

Photographs showed the honey-colored dog sitting next to bricks of drugs and stacks of cash that he helped discover on I-95. But Trooper seemed more interested in a ball and rope in his jaw than the millions of dollars of contraband he recovered.

Canine work ethic

A smile forms on Cpl. Mike Conner's face when he talks about the golden retriever.

"Every single day, he wanted to come out to work," Conner said.

During a traffic stop, Trooper got to the scene and trotted around the vehicle. He stopped near the rear fender. His tail stopped wagging, his mouth closed and he sat on the ground looking at McCurdy.

"I remember hearing Colleen say, `Show me,'" Conner said. "Right when she said that, Trooper raised his right paw and stuck it on top of the fender. We searched the vehicle and right where he had put his right paw, there was a kilo of cocaine. That was a mark of how intelligent he was."

McCurdy bought Trooper from a New Jersey family and for the first three years, he was a house pet.

When she was assigned to work with canines and her original dog didn't work out, she urged her boss to let Trooper go through the 14-week training.

Winfield Baker, the training director for the Maryland State Police canine unit, was reluctant at first.

"House pets usually don't want to work, they want to lay around," Baker said. "But Trooper had the desire. He wanted to work."

Trooper proved to be more than capable of doing the job -- he found more than $6.5 million in drug-related money during his career.

"He worked until the day he died and I don't think he would have wanted it any other way," McCurdy said.

The 11-year-old dog began losing weight after developing liver cancer. He was euthanized Jan. 14.

madison.park@baltsun.com

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