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A world-class K-9

There aren’t humans that received the retirement farewell that K-9 officer Tazer received Saturday behind Double K Specialty.

Members of various law enforcement agencies as well as a large public following turned out for the party in honor of quite possibly the best K-9 in country.

“I’ve been looking forward to today for a couple reasons,” Austin Police Lt. Matt Holten said during an awards ceremony. “It’s a chance to say thank you to Jeff and now that it’s official, maybe now someone else will have a chance to win a K-9 trial around here.”

While the last part was a joke, it was much more. Aside from being an extremely effective K-9 with partner, Mower County deputy Sgt. Jeff Ellis, in tracking and apprehending criminals, Tazer was top dog in the world of K-9 competition.

Tazer and Ellis have won the United States Police Canine Association national title five times, something that was unheard of when they accomplished the feat. That’s on top of a number of other awards the duo has amassed over the years — trophies that were lined up under a tent behind Ellis and his wife, Tina, Saturday.

Several people spoke during the ceremony, giving awards and wishing the 10-year-old Tazer a good retirement, but it’s not just the awards. More than that it’s the partnership Ellis and Tazer have shared over time, something Brooklyn Park K-9 officer and USPCA Region 12 president Jeremy Halek emphasized. He used his own experience as an example.

“Today is a real tough day,” Halek said. “Sometimes people don’t know what we go through with these dogs.

“Really enjoy retirement Tazer. You deserve it,” Halek said.

For Ellis, who is going to continue his work as deputy, not much will actually change.

“For me Tazer isn’t gone,” he said. “He’s still the same dog. I’m still there with him.”

Perhaps Ellis’ and Tazer’s partnership has been closer than most. Ellis has had Tazer since he was a puppy. Their professional relationship started when the pup was sold to the Mower County Sheriff’s Department for $1.

Ellis’ training of Tazer went along a much different path than usual training.

“We had a clear understanding of each other,” Ellis said. “You teach them how to learn. When they know how to learn then the old adage, can’t teach an old dog new tricks is invalid.”

The respect Tazer has garnered over the years was evident Saturday judging by the public turnout. When the awards were over and Tazer began posing for pictures there was no shortage of willing subjects.

“I’m really impressed with the turnout,” Ellis said. “I’ve always had great support and it’s definitely appreciated.

As for Tazer, who through much of the program showed more interest in gnawing on his favorite ball, life is going to get a little bit easier.

“Police officers don’t understand the true meaning of partner,” Ellis said. “I think that’s only something that is understood by K-9.”

Ellis has no immediate intentions of taking a new partner, but he doesn’t think he’ll get all the way out of it. He’ll continue to help those who come asking his advice and besides, it’s not like he’s a ‘never’ kind of guy.

“Never say never,” he said. “Those that say something can never be done are generally passed up by those who can.”

“He’s going to be a glorified farm dog,” Ellis said. “He’s going to be really well rewarded.”