- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Deputy Tim had just found a large stash of marijuana hidden in an old ambulance. His partner, Peoria County sheriff’s Deputy Austin Griggs, patted him on the head, and gave him a rolled up towel; a move that sent Tim into spasms of joy.

Tim, a German shepherd, and Griggs, his K-9 handler, were in the midst of their training at the Peoria County Jail, an exercise they do often to hone their skills and, frankly, to have a bit of fun.

The Sheriff’s Office has two police dogs, Tim and new dog, Quincy, who arrived in March from Germany. His handler, Deputy Stanley Kester Jr., is taking the 96-hour certification course, required by the state of Illinois, for all new dogs entering service. And who better to teach that class than the dog’s trainer, Peter Wörsdörfer, who arrived from Germany in late April.

He has trained several dogs for the Peoria area including Grouchy, a dog for the Peoria Heights Police Department, and Dark, who works for the Chillicothe Police Department. He’s also the original trainer for both Tim and Quincy. All three departments use Wörsdörfer for their annual training. It saves money and also allows them to get refreshers from a man who has been in the field for close to 45 years.

Wörsdörfer started working with dogs in the early 1970s while at a school for police in Germany. He was a K-9 police officer for the city of Neuwied. In the late 1990s, he opened his own kennel and also helped the German army with its dogs. He has come to the Peoria area for several years to help the Sheriff’s Office as well as others with their training and certification.

Lt. Jason Buckley, who supervises the dog handlers for the Sheriff’s Office, said the county uses Wörsdörfer’s because of his expertise.

“Having Peter here is a tremendous resource for our certification,” he said, adding the state requires only an eight-hour course for those dogs trained to sniff for drugs. The county, as well as the Heights and Chillicothe, however, opt for the 96-hour course, saying it gives the dogs and their handlers a yearly refresher on activities such as searching for guns, searching through buildings, tracking a person, apprehension and other basic patrol dog tactics.

“Peter, having done this so long and so many times, has such an immense wealth of knowledge of how to fix problems with the dogs and the handlers,” Buckley said.

Dogs, Wörsdörfer said, come here after about two years at his home. When asked if it was hard to essentially bring a dog over to the United States and leave it after all those months, he said no.

“It’s OK, because I know he’s in good hands and they will go to a good home,” Wörsdörfer said. “They are bred for a purpose, and that purpose is over here.”

But he does have an attachment to them. Grouchy got his name as he used to have a dog with the same moniker. So when he had a chance to raise Grouchy from a pup, he got the name.

Buckley agreed a tight bond develops with a dog. He was a K-9 officer for the county for many years before he was a supervisor.

“You bond with that dog, he bonds with you. You want to do things to make it fun for you and the dog,” he said.

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Source: (Peoria) Journal Star, https://bit.ly/1TfIFyp

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Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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