"The reward and the praise that they get after jumping in is what they work for," Mathis said.
Eventually, Mathis hid a training weapon in a grassy field near the swimming pool. DEA frantically searched for several minutes until she found it.
"To be honest, I forgot where I had hid it," Mathis said. "But that's what we look for in a dog -- a dog that won't quit until they've found it."
Cpl. Robbie Evans later put on a bite sleeve and got into the kids pool. Each K9 took turns jumping in the water after him.
Dunbar Police Lt. Mike Lester had no trouble getting his dog Kratos to jump in and take a bite. Kratos, he said, was eager to please his master.
Lester understands the bond between K9 and handler. His department is mourning the loss of Alley, a German shepherd who died last week after a decade of service.
There are nine dogs in the Kanawha County K9 unit. All of them completed a 12-week course to detect drugs such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine, Mathis said. K9 dogs retire as they grow older and begin to slow down.
"But sometimes the dogs are not ready to retire," Mathis said.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.