After an 11 year career on the Austin ISD police force, Buddy’s career as a canine detective has concluded.
The 13 year-old English Springer spaniel, who is trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and powder used in firearms, will now spend his days as a house dog. But he leaves behind some big paw prints.
“He has quite the resume,” says Detective Travis Pickford, Buddy’s handler. "Over the past 11 years, Buddy has located murder weapons and helped on numerous felony narcotics investigation."
Buddy was the first narcotics dog to join the AISD police force back in 2001. The canine is a two-time Police Olympics medalist in narcotic detection, and participated in “Project Delirium,” a nationwide investigation to recover cocaine and marijuana.
It seems amazing that the canine, who is so active and playful in person, is able to keep focused on the job. But Pickford points to Buddy’s "ball drive" as what keeps him going.
"He’s very aggressive in the sense of his work," said Pickford. "You know, because of that desire to chase after that ball and get that reward." Every time Buddy completes a narcotics search, he gets to play with his tennis ball as a reward.
Buddy the narcotics vet also has a softer side. Buddy and Pickford worked together in AISD schools, giving presentations to students about the dangers of drugs and narcotics. The pair has received volumes of fan mail over the years. Pickford humbly points to his canine partner as the reason for the fan mail.
"The kids love him," said Pickford of Buddy. "He has a very friendly face; the first thing that comes out of their mouths is a big awww."
At Buddy’s retirement party today, a crowd of police officers and AISD employees gathered to celebrate the dog whose career brought so much to the Austin-area. Buddy seemed pleased, though unfazed, by the attention. However, Pickford was slightly more sentimental than his canine partner.
"It’s very bitter sweet, you know, like I said, it’s like bringing your best friend to work every day," said Pickford. "Being able to look in my rearview and see his big puppy dog eyes staring at me everyday single day, I’m going to miss that."
Starting today, Buddy will become a full-time house dog, and will reside with Pickford.