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Cheney police dog nose her business

Sun., Sept. 6, 2009

April is a 5-month-old bloodhound who will help the Cheney Police Department track people. She was donated to Cheney by the Sheriff’s Office in Newberry County, S.C. (Lisa Leinberger / The Spokesman-Review)
April is a 5-month-old bloodhound who will help the Cheney Police Department track people. She was donated to Cheney by the Sheriff’s Office in Newberry County, S.C. (Lisa Leinberger / The Spokesman-Review)

She has floppy ears, big feet and a heck of a sniffer. April, a 5-month-old bloodhound, is the newest member of the Cheney police force. Donated by the Sheriff’s Office in Newberry County, S.C., she will help the department track missing people.

“It’s rare to have a bloodhound as a patrol dog,” said Chief Jeff Sale. She is one of three bloodhounds in the state working with police departments.

Although the department is calling the new dog April for now, she doesn’t know her name yet. Police plan to hold a contest with local schoolchildren to name her.

Her partner is Officer Zeb Campbell. April has been living at Campbell’s house since she arrived in Cheney Aug. 28.

A working dog, she will live a different life from Campbell’s pet dog. April will live in a backyard kennel and only go in the house on her way to the kennel.

“I don’t look at her as a pet, I look at her as a partner,” Campbell said.

He is participating in April’s training. They started by sending her after a person with a 30-minute head start.

“She’s finding them,” Campbell said.

Campbell said her training will take four or five months. After that, April will ride in Campbell’s patrol car, already equipped for K-9 officers.

April is what Campbell called a “praise-driven” dog, meaning she isn’t rewarded with toys or treats, but with praise.

Sale said the funds for April’s upkeep will come from private donations – Defender Development and Farmers Insurance have donated funds, Cheney resident Graeme Webster is donating April’s food, and Blackhawk Veterinary Hospital is donating services for her care. The South Carolina sheriff’s department will help mentor Campbell and April.

Sale said the department had been interested in getting a bloodhound because they are nonaggressive. April will help find missing children and adults who have walked away from care centers and hospitals, and she can track criminals.

“We don’t have a fear of her biting someone,” Sale said.

Lisa Leinberger

Trayton’s hot wheels

Eleven-year-old Trayton Larsen traded his walker for a new, red three-wheeler recently and said he could “zoom” 100 mph.

“Awesome,” he told the Spokane County sheriff’s volunteers who joined his grandfather in giving him the custom-built tricycle. “You people rock.”

Trayton said he’d always wanted a bicycle. But he was born with cerebral palsy and had to hang back when his brothers, 9-year-old Gage and 6-year-old Blake, took off on their bicycles with friends.

“There are about eight kids total,” mother Crystal Larsen said. “It’s pretty sad to see them all take off and him chase after them with his walker.”

She said Trayton has never complained about his situation, but “you can see it in his eyes” that it’s hard to be left behind.

You also can see the thrill of pedal power in his eyes.

Al Fisher saw it when he and other Sheriff’s Office SCOPE volunteers conducted a bicycle safety course at Broadway Elementary School, where Trayton is entering fifth grade.

Trayton was allowed to participate in the training, using a school-owned three-wheel therapy cycle. It was a new experience for him, and Fisher realized immediately the boy needed his own wheels.

“The look on his face that day was so unreal, I just figured there had to be a way to do it,” Fisher said.

“It just lit up like a Roman candle,” said Darrel Borek, another SCOPE bicycle safety instructor. “Boom.”

The volunteers gave helmets to Trayton and other children who didn’t have them, but Trayton said he didn’t need one because he didn’t have a bicycle.

“I just said, ‘Oh, maybe someday you will,’ ” Fisher recalled. “I’d already put it in my mind that I was going to make this happen.”

That was in May, and Fisher soon contacted family members and began raising money. The first challenge was to determine what kind of cycle to get. A variety of specialized models are available for different needs, including some that are propelled by arm motion.

“We decided to get him one that would work his legs,” Trayton’s grandfather, Rob Allen, said. “This is real good therapy for him.”

Allen said Trayton is “the last person in the world to let you know he has a disability,” but his leg and abdominal muscles are weak.

“By the end of this summer, you’ll see all kinds of results,” he predicted.

The cycle was custom-built by Rifton Equipment of Rifton, N.Y. Family members had to get numerous measurements – height, chest circumference, leg length – without telling Trayton why.

He didn’t find out about the gift until he arrived at the Spokane Valley police station for a ceremony that included Chief Rick Van Leuven and his boss, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Crystal Larsen said Trayton became suspicious when she and his stepfather, Jose Niño, loaded him into the family car along with a bike helmet.

She said he asked, “Are we going to get a bike today?”

Fisher said he wanted to deliver the cycle before summer’s end, but the trike cost about $1,100 and the SCOPE fund drive faltered. So Allen paid the balance – about a third of the price, he and Fisher said.

As a last-minute finishing touch, Fisher threw in the squeeze-bulb bicycle horn he used as a child.

“I found it in a box and thought I ought to find some way to mount it,” Fisher said.

He got help from the Bike Hub shop, which mounted the horn and threw in a set of safety reflectors.

Trayton made ample use of the horn as he zipped around the police parking lot.

John Craig


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