As a veteran owned business, we had the honor to get the unbelievable story of Duke the K9 Doberman from he's amazing handler and owner - Ed Soares, who is a dear friend of INVIROX Dog Training Gear. A story of true inspiration to the K9 community.
"Duke was born on March 28, 2015. I brought Duke home at eight weeks old as a personal pet and companion. Duke is a European Doberman who comes from the San Jose, California based West Coast Dobermans, which is owned and operated by Tony Alves. At 12 weeks old, I enrolled him at Bay Area K9 in Santa Clara, California, owned by Steve Kenzler. Bay Area K9 (BAK9) provided the basis and foundation for Duke’s obedience and also started his detection skills. We continue to work with BAK9 to this day.
Around the age of six months old, Duke came to the police department with me for a management meeting that was scheduled on my day off. While I attended the meeting I was going to leave him in his crate that was in the bed of my truck. Menlo Park Police Chief Robert Jonson, who is a huge dog lover, was not having any of this. He ordered me to bring Duke into his office so he could “puppy-sit.” The meeting lasted two hours and when I returned to the chief’s office I was pleased to see that Duke was asleep under his desk with his head resting on the chief’s feet while he typed on his computer. To my utter shock, I also observed his entire office floor was covered with shredded cardboard and several suspicious looking wet stains at different locations on his carpet. I thought his next words surely would be, “Sergeant Soares, your badge and gun, please!”
I apologized profusely for Duke’s indiscretions but, to my amazement, the chief smiled from ear to ear and said, “We had a blast!” With a sigh of relief, I made a joke of, “Wouldn’t this be a funny story to tell if he was to become a K9 someday?” The chief cocked his head to one side and said, “I wouldn’t be opposed to that idea.” With that seed planted in my mind, I began to incorporate scent tracking into Duke’s obedience training regimen with BAK9.
In November of 2015, I drafted a proposal to Menlo Park Police Commander William Dixon and Chief Jonsen suggesting we make Duke a certified narcotic detection K9. On May 24, 2016 the proposal was accepted and ratified by The Menlo Park Police Command Staff and Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure.
On June 27, 2016, Duke and I were enrolled in Trident K9 Consulting, based out of South San Francisco. Trident K9 is owned and operated by Sergeant Martin Mahon, who is with the South San Francisco Police. Brit Elmore of the San Francisco Police Department is their head trainer. During the intensive three-week training, Mahon and Elmore instructed me and Duke on basic K9 handling all the way through to certification for narcotic detection. At the end of the course, Duke was certified through the California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) for the detection of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana. Duke and I have continued to attend weekly update training sessions with Trident K9 Consulting.
On July 29, 2016, Duke and I enrolled in the California Narcotics Canine Association (CNCA) and his detection skills were tested and evaluated during a daylong certification. At the completion, Duke was certified through the CNCA for the detection of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana. We continue to certify once a year with POST and CNCA to keep in compliance for Duke to be able to work the streets.
Duke has since been incorporated into The Menlo Park Police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and is deployed during traffic enforcement stops, parole/probation searches and narcotic search warrants throughout the County of San Mateo. I am currently the sergeant in charge of SIU and find him to be a tremendous asset to our team and organization. He is called upon weekly to assist other agencies in their narcotic investigations. Duke is credited in finding hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal narcotics, firearms and U.S. currency during the years since he became a certified narcotic detection K9.
Duke’s ability to sniff out the smallest amount of narcotics still astounds me. This being said, sniffing out a large seizure of narcotics always makes my day. One time after the execution of a narcotic search warrant, Duke was utilized to search the residence and alerted on a suitcase deep within a bedroom closet. When the suitcase was removed and opened to reveal the contents we located over six pounds of crystal meth. As a cop, it thrills me to be able to remove this much product off the streets.
During the execution of another search warrant, Duke alerted on a cabinet in a bedroom that contained several boxes which appeared to belong to a child. Once the boxes were opened we located $100,000 in U.S. currency. Duke will alert on currency if that money has been associated with or touched narcotics. The money was seized from the suspect as proceeds from narcotic trafficking. Duke is also utilized at the United States Postal Service and other shipping and receiving companies around San Mateo County.
Duke is the only narcotic detection K-9 deployed in our department, which includes an apprehension K-9 named Hardy, a 3½-year-old German Shepherd who is handled by Officer Manuel Torres.
Duke is a wonderful ambassador for The Menlo Park Police Department. He has attended hundreds of school functions, classroom visits, community outings and hospitals where he meets and greets young children and the citizens we serve. Our favorite outreach is the time we spend at hospitals meeting with patients who are extremely ill and bedridden. Bringing smiles to their faces, making them laugh and forget for a moment, ever so slightly, the situation they are in. This is by far the best part of our job. I talk to them about how Duke performs his duties as a Police K9; we do tricks then let them pet and love on him for as long as needed. Duke is at his best when he is around young children and amazes me with how gentle he can be.
We visited the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford where we went into the play area where patients of all ages were brought throughout the day. The children are at the hospital for a wide variety of illnesses and conditions.
They loved playing with Duke, petting and hugging him. While I was there one of the staff members asked if I would be able to make it to some of the rooms where the children could not leave their beds due to their conditions. As Duke and I entered a room, I observed a girl around 12-years-old in bed. We walked up to the side of her bed and introduced ourselves. She looked at Duke and began to smile and reach out to him.
I had never brought him to a hospital or trained him in any way for this scenario, so what happened next completely blew my mind. Duke walked up slowly to her bedside and rested his head softly on her lap. The young girl began stroking his head and rubbing his ears as his eyes focused on her. I looked up and observed several employees had stopped to witness, as well. Duke stayed with her for about 15 minutes, never moving his head from her lap other than to snuggle in a little closer to her.
I have never witnessed something as pure. An animal sensing a human’s need for love and compassion at that exact moment in time and providing it without hesitation. As we left, she said quietly, ‘thank you” and “I love you, Duke.’ I teared up and said a silent prayer for Duke’s new friend.”
In December of 2107, Duke was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in Orlando Florida during the last evening of the AKC National Dog Show. He was given the title of AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellent Uniformed Service K9 for 2017. He is also the official mascot for the Doberman Pincher Club of America (DPCA).
Most recently we concluded the “Draw K9 Duke” contest where elementary students from all our local schools drew their best impression of Duke and the winners received a visit from Duke and a pizza party for their class. We are now starting the “Duke Rocks” contest, where rocks that have been painted with Dukes likeness will be hidden around school campuses in Menlo Park. Once a student finds a Duke rock they can bring it to the police station to claim a special prize given to them by Duke himself.
Duke is also a regular attraction at the Facebook campus which is located in the City of Menlo Park. Duke can be seen at the Facebook Fairs which occur throughout the summer months or just strolling around the campus during the day.
While Duke’s impact is huge within the police department and the community we serve, it radiates stronger with me. He is the epitome of a velcro dog, a typical Doberman trait. He is known to whine and cry if I leave him in my office alone for five minutes or in my K-9 car, as to say, ‘Where are you going! Take me! Take me!’ Duke accompanies me basically 24/7 at work and on my days off. It really is the best job in the department.
Historically, I’ve always been the kind of cop that hasn’t really been keen on community events or public speaking and was more focused on my job of putting bad people in jail. This completely changed when Duke came into my life. Duke’s story about how he became a police K-9 is extremely unique, people are drawn to him and are genuinely inquisitive and have many questions. Add to that, Dobermans are very rare these days in law enforcement.
Duke has brought me out of my shell, made me more approachable and talkative. I now take him weekly to many different schools in and outside of the jurisdiction of Menlo Park for “meet-and greet” visits. I tell his story and conduct drug-awareness classes for the students. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Duke is a very kind and gentle soul and is at his best around young children and those with special needs. He has a knack for sensing their vulnerability, pain or need for unconditional love. Duke is truly an embodiment of what a K9 is supposed to be; loyal, intelligent and driven, yet kind when needed the most. He is a testament to his regal breed and to police K9’s everywhere.
On 02/10/22, Duke was retired from the Police Department and since then we have teamed up with Operation Freedom Paws and certified as an official Therapy Dog and ambassador for Operation Freedom Paws." For more information on OFP and what we do with them please click on the link below!
Thank you Duke & Ed for an amazing service!