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Good boy, Zeus!


by Trinity Gruenberg

    A Wadena County Sheriff’s deputy is getting ready to retire this spring. He just may be the most liked deputy in the department. He’s furry, four legged and barks.

    K9 Zeus, a 9-year-old German Shepherd, has served for the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office the last 8 years. He has taken drugs off the streets, apprehended suspects, tracked people who have wondered off and protected his handler Sergent Bryan Savaloja.

    He’s a certified narcotics dog, trained in apprehension as well as search and rescue, making him a valuable tool for the department. He also is involved in public relations with the community and visits Wadena County schools, fairs and organizations. 

    Zeus works a lot of nights when drug activity is at its highest, but he can be called on at any time. 

    “He has been an awesome dog for us. He is the only one out of his class that is still working,” said Sheriff Mike Carr.

    Zeus has been on the department for 8 years. He was finished with classes and certified on  June 17, 2010, the day the EF4 tornado hit Wadena.

    Savaloja was able to pick him up from training and spend a few weeks with him to become acquainted before they spent another 13 weeks of training together. 

    “Nobody told me, when I got Zeus, that he had never been in a house or had seen a set of stairs. I had to housebreak a fully grown dog. It was about two years before he was comfortable with stairs,” shared Savaloja. “If we had to search a house with stairs, I had to hold on because he only had one speed, fast.”

    Now that he’s pushing 10, Savaloja is more careful about how Zeus works as well as preparing him for retirement. The sheriff’s department wants him to enjoy time just being a normal dog. 

    Zeus will have a retirement party, with cake, when the time comes. 

    “He liked doing narcotics. When I start giving him the commands he goes berserk. He’s got a good nose on him, and he likes doing it,” said Savaloja.

    Zeus knows his job. Whether Savaloja brings out the tracking harness or the bite sleeve, he is amped and ready to work. Savaloja turns it into a game for Zeus, which makes it fun for him and keeps his interest and focus.

    His favorite reward is his ball.

    “All he cares about is getting something when he’s done what I’ve asked,” said Savaloja.

    “He’s an exciting dog. Always jacked up and ready to go,” said Carr. “To him, everything is fun.”

    At home he is just a normal dog. . .

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