Newest K9 joins county ranks, and she’s a beauty

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal introduced K9 Nadee, a full blooded yellow labrador retriever, Friday as the newest member of the five-dog team. Nadee came to the department through a private purchase by reserve Capt. Lawrence Counts, who is also the dog’s handler.

Nadee is an explosive detection dog, giving the county its first bomb dog. The other K9’s on the team  — Malinois and a German Shepard — are dual purpose, meaning they can do apprehension work as well as drug detection. Nadee’s calmer disposition makes her more suited to detecting explosives, Graybeal said. 

The 2-year-old lab joined K9 Stocky and handler Deputy Kenny Harless, K9 Mali and handler Deputy Will Rhodes, K9 Rudi and handler Deputy Will Laws and K9 Mafia and handler Deputy Tuesday Cabrera. Nadee and Mafia are the two newest dogs on the team.

Capt. Bryan Horton, who supervises special teams at the department, said the bond between the handler and K9 is key to the two working as a team. K9 officer live with their handlers and become part of the family, Cabrera said. Her 6-year-old daughter loves Mafia, and the affection is returned, she said.

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Horton said having working K9’s that are gentle and friendly was important to Graybeal, but the dogs can turn on their working drive in an instant with a simple command from their handler.

Graybeal said he had wanted to add an explosive detection dog to the team for a long time, but he could never find the money to make the purchase. Counts and his wife, Chouree Blevins-Counts, made the decision to purchase the dog, and he trained with it to become explosive detection certified.

“They become part of your family,” Counts said. Counts,  a real-estate lawyer in his civilian life also serves as a reserve deputy, and will be on call just like the other K9 handlers.

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