New drug detection dog joins sheriff's ranks
After more than 200 hours of training, Chinook and Samerdyke passed standards June 6 to become the new drug detection team for the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office. They replaced the retiring unit of Remi and handler Marc Brodeur, who has joined the department’s detective ranks.
During their five-year service time, Remi and Brodeur conducted hundreds of searches and field deployments throughout Yamhill County and beyond. Working with every law enforcement agency in the county, they assisted in the seizure of 3.2 pounds of methamphetamine, 5.1 ounces of heroin and 8.5 pounds of marijuana.
The pair also participated in dozens of school and civic presentations.
Sheriff’s office policy allowed Brodeur to purchase Remi for $1 when her career ended, allowing her to spend her retirement as a family pet.
The vacancy was swiftly filled by Samerdyke, already working with the drug team when the opening was announced. “It was a new challenge and a different avenue,” he said.
His partner an 18-month-old Belgian Malinois, was donated to the sheriff’s office by Alex Fyfe, an Oregon Police Canine Association master trainer.
The dog had only a few months of basic obedience training when he joined Samerdyke. They worked with OPCA master trainer Mack Reid of McMinnville, a retired handler who’s instructed more than 30 dog-and-handler teams over the years.
Reid helped Samerdyke establish a connection with Chinook as they practiced tracking heroin, cocaine and meth.
Handling a canine partner takes more energy than Samerdyke expected.
Chinook is an exuberant dog, excited to work and eager to play. Those are necessary traits for a narcotics dog, but requires managing.
“We’re both brand new to drug detection, which I think is a good thing,” Samerdyke said. “But it was really challenging at first.”
The pair had a lot to learn about and from each other — moods and habits, skills and techniques.
Even after earning certification, Samerdyke spends every minute of downtime on the job squeezing in extra training. The goal is to put in at least 16 hours of monthly practice.
In Addition, Chinook joins Samerdyke on patrols, giving the team more than 10 hours together a day. While an animal partner puts different demands on Samerdyke, he finds their relationship rewarding.
“You have a different bond with a working dog,” he said. “But I think we’re going to be a good team.”