After eight years tracking down drugs and wanted suspects with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, it was time for K-9 Buhl to retire.
The Belgian Malinois mix officially retired on April 15 after eight years as a K-9 certified in patrol and narcotics. Throughout Buhl’s career he was deployed over 200 times for drug-related scans resulting in the recovery of narcotics, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.
Buhl’s handler Cpl. Matthew Wilson is an 11-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office. Buhl was his first K-9 with the Sheriff’s Office and has been his only handler since he was a 1-year-old.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, “Buhl will be enjoying his retirement at home playing his favorite game of ‘Chuck It Ball’ with Corporal Wilson.”
The Times caught up with Wilson to find out what Buhl is up to now that he's not chasing down crime.
Q: Do you plan to be paired with another K-9 now that Buhl has retired?
A: I am not being paired with another K-9. I currently have a Labrador retriever at home who is my personal dog and now K-9 Buhl. As much as I miss having a partner with me 24/7, I do not want to attempt to have three alpha male dogs at my house.
Q: How much additional training and certification did you go through in order to become a K-9 handler?
A: I went through four weeks of patrol training and then another four weeks of narcotics training, totaling about 400-plus hours. After we were certified, we still continue to complete 16-plus hours of training a month.
Q: Do different K-9s have different habits and temperaments? What makes Buhl unique?
A: I would say all K-9s are different and you can never compare one with another. I was very lucky to get Buhl. I felt comfortable with Buhl around the community and with small children. Buhl was very unique, he knew when we were working and he knew when we were off duty. Buhl knew when he had to be protective and knew when he could be a friendly, lovable dog. I trusted him with my life and I never second-guessed him, ever.
Q: Before Buhl retired, how often did you do training exercises with him? Will you keep doing this now that he is retired?
A: Training was held twice a month. K-9 handlers are required 16-plus hours a month of training with a master trainer. I would also work on his obedience every day to be consistent as I could with Buhl. Whenever I would get him out of the patrol vehicle to run and stretch his legs, we would always do a round of obedience.
I still plan to do as much obedience training with him now that he is retired. I will continue to work with Buhl with article searches, tracking. Instead of handler protection as he was trained to do, we are now focusing on home protection.
Q: Is there anything about being a K-9 handler that the general public might be surprised to learn?
A: Nothing about the job is easy, but it’s rewarding. It’s sad to say, but I have spent more time with Buhl than my own children. Buhl was with me for 12 hours a day/night in a patrol car and then went home with me. I love dogs and have enjoyed working with them. We had our great days, and we had our bad days. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into being a K-9 handler. I will never forget how much work and dedication goes into making an efficient K-9 team. The one thing I will not miss is Buhl jumping into a pond or river while on duty. Then getting back in the patrol car soaking wet and just drenching myself, computer and everything else in the car when he shakes. I won’t miss that one bit.
Q: Is there a story you can share about a time when Buhl was really vital to closing a case?
A: In 2012, a pharmacy in Woodbine was burglarized when the store was closed. The suspects gained entry by smashing the front door, stealing prescription narcotics and fleeing on foot to a nearby parked getaway vehicle. K-9 Buhl completed a track of the suspects locating articles. These items were collected for evidence. DNA collected from the evidence identified the suspect(s) involved, and a search warrant was executed in Howard County. The search warrant executed was able to tie the suspects to multiple burglaries in Carroll and Howard counties.
In February of 2016, a vehicle pursuit led police in a field where the suspect fled into a wooded area. The driver was intoxicated, had a revoked license and had several warrants for their arrest. K-9 Buhl tracked the suspect to a residential area in Westminster. K-9 Buhl apprehended the suspect, who was found hiding under a trailer.
In June of 2016, an armed bank robbery occurred in Mount Airy, with the suspect fleeing on foot. The suspect was believed to have left in a vehicle. K-9 Buhl completed a track, which led to the discovery of an article the suspect was wearing. DNA collected from the evidence identified the suspect, a confirmed gang member from Chicago. Evidence collected from the successful K-9 track connected the suspect to several additional bank robberies in Montgomery County and surrounding states.