CLEARFIELD — Sniffing for drugs and helping find people are a far cry from what former police dog Turo is doing now. The canine now spends his time amid four children, letting them crawl on him and playing with them. He is not helping serve and protect the community, but instead spending his time as part of a family.
After almost eight years of helping the Clearfield Police, canine Turo is finally settling into family life.
Turo, aka Clearfield Police’s former K-9, served alongside human counterparts.
His most recent counterpart was his handler officer Jeromy Jackson, who decided to adopt him and have him live permanently with his own family.
That decision became official in the second week of November when the city council approved the agreement.
Jackson has four little boys ages 13 months to 6 years old. All of the boys get along well with Turo, who is 9.
“He allows them to crawl on him and pull his ears and he plays with them,” Jackson said. “He is not aggressive with them at all. There are no issues at all being a police dog over a regular pet.”
Jackson has worked as a police officer for almost seven years now. Of that time, five years has been with Clearfield, and three of them with K-9 as his partner.
Getting used to having a dog on the job was a change.
“It was a different mindset,” Jackson said. “You are suddenly in charge of something else. You have to feed him, walk him, brush him and train him.”
But it is worth it, and it is an experience Jackson would repeat.
“I’m more than happy to do it again,” he said. “He is a really good dog.”
Jackson said it is typical for dogs to live with their officers when their service is over.
But he already misses him on the job. Officers work a rotating shift between days, swings and graves, but no matter when he was on the clock, he always had Turo riding in the back of the patrol truck.
“Having the dog gives you a partner,” Jackson said. “He is an early warning system because he barked when people came to the truck. It makes you feel more secure.”
Turo was the only police dog at Clearfield, and there are no plans to replace him this fiscal year. The cost for such dogs ranges from $10,000 to $15,000.
City Manager Chris Hillman said the cost is so high partly because most of the dogs come from Europe and as far away as Czechoslovakia, where Turo came from.
Jackson said a language barrier took some getting used to. Jackson said he had to learn to speak commands in Czechoslovakian; sit became sadni, lay to lachni and heel to nohay.
“The handler has to give the commands,” Hillman said. “If he said it in English, the dog likely would not even know what he was saying.”
Jackson said he learned roughly 25 commands that were all single words.
“I just had to practice with it,” he said. “It was part of your training.”
Even though Turo is at home with the family, Jackson still uses those commands. However, Turo has become somewhat bilingual since the rest of the family talks to him in English and he responds well.
Jackson and his family are glad to have the canine as part of the family. Turo has free roam of the house and yard, playing and interacting with the family. He also enjoys going out for rides.
“It was a smart choice,” he said. “We weren’t just going to kick him out on the street.”