Edmonds’ new police recruit is K9 named Hobbs

EDMONDS — The big, young black dog still needs his leash to stick next to his police officer partner, Jason Robinson.

Hobbs has been on the force only four weeks. He’s still learning.

Hobbs, a 17-month-old German shepherd, arrived this summer at the Edmonds Police Department. He came from Germany. Robinson named the dog after Roy Hobbs, a character in the baseball novel, “The Natural,” that was made into Robert Redford movie.

Together, Robinson and Hobbs are spending 10 weeks training to pass state handler tests before they can go on police missions tracking bad guys.

Every day, Robinson must learn to read Hobbs’ personality, his body language and his moods. When they go tracking, the movements of the dog’s tail have different meanings.

“It is amazing how the bond was there so quickly,” Robinson said. “He is really a faithful partner.”

Most police dogs start at a department when they are young, between 15 months and 2 years old, said Edmonds police Cpl. Shane Hawley, the department’s dog trainer.

Hobbs was a gift from the Edmonds Police Foundation, a nonprofit that supports police services in Edmonds. The foundation raised the money through community donations and by selling plush-toy police dogs, President David Jones said.

Hobbs is the second dog the foundation has donated. The first, Dash, retired earlier this year, department spokesman Sgt. Mark Marsh said.

Robinson joined the police department three and a half years ago. To be a handler, he needed three years’ experience as an officer. He also spent more than a year attending police dog training.

“This is a huge commitment,” he said. “I showed my interest for learning more and more.”

When they aren’t training, the handler keeps learning and spending time with the dog, Hawley said.

“It is difficult to learn what the dog wants. He doesn’t speak English,” Hawley said.

Hobbs is receiving two kinds of training: obedience and tracking suspects.

Hobbs and Robinson must train with Hawley for 309 hours. They’ll work with police dogs and trainers from around the region. Their training runs four night a week, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. They are on their fourth week, and Robinson already sees an improvement in Hobbs’ behavior, he said.

Hawley and Robinson communicate with the dog using hand signals and commands.

Because the dog is from Germany, Robinson had to use some German language commands, like the word for “sit.” Hobbs had to learn some English commands — because Robinson’s German wasn’t perfect.

The department picks police dogs according to strict criteria, Hawley said.

“It needs lots of energy, to be able to go tracking, and catch,” Hawley said. “If it is a really excited dog, we can pick a calm handler; make the opposite work sometimes.”

It’s a tough job for police dogs, Hawley said. They tend to retire between 7 and 9 years old, more often because of injuries.

Robinson hopes to keep Hobbs for the dog’s entire life.

“It is kind of like having another kid,” he said.

Marie Damman: mdamman@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

‘Come talk to me. Don’t jump, come talk to me’

State Patrol trooper Yaroslav Holodkov just happened to be driving by when he saw a suicidal man.

Marysville educators reach out to a newly traumatized school

Several affected by shootings in 2014 offered to talk with counterparts in Eastern Washington.

Hurry! Target will take your old car seat, but not for long

The seats will be taken apart and the various materials recycled.

Sheriff’s Office receives national recognition

Sheriff accepts award “notable achievements in the field of highway safety” over the past year.

Edmonds-Woodway High School briefly locked down

A student tried to stop a fight and a boy, 16, responded by threatening the student with a knife.

Study considers making it legal to grow marijuana at home

The Liquor and Cannabis Board is considering two scenarios for allowing a minimal number of plants.

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Marysville babysitter found guilty of infant girl’s death

Medical experts differed over whether it was head trauma or illness that caused the baby to die.

Whether cheers or jeers, DeVos appearance will rouse spirits

Trump’s secretary of education is coming to Bellevue to raise money for a pro-business think tank.

Most Read