Top dogs once again

Published 4:06 pm Saturday, July 24, 2010

With their famous father now retired, Ghost and Bosco continued Austin’s winning K-9 tradition at a recent certification and competition.

The two dogs, who are 4-year-old sons of the well-decorated Tazer, racked up a number of honors at the United States Police Canine Association’s Region 12 event, held July 18 to 20 in Albertville, Minn.

Ghost, who is handled by Lt. Matt Holten, took home top honors in the “dual-purpose” dog category, which combines narcotics searching with criminal apprehension.

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Ghost and Holten also bested a number of other dogs and handlers and won first place as a unit.

Bosco, who is handled by Officer Eric Blust, took home a third-place trophy as well.

Combined, Ghost, Bosco, Holten and Blust were named the top team in Region 12, which represents Western Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Manitoba, Canada.

The honors are nothing new for the dogs, who have took home both individual and team awards at past national events. And when Ghost and Bosco were just starting out, Tazer was the top dog. Before retiring earlier this year, the 9-year-old Belgian Malinois was a five-time national champion.

Holten, who has been a K-9 handler for more than 20 years, said Ghost and Bosco are just now getting into their prime as police dogs.

“They’re both 4 now,” he said. “This is when they hit their strides.”

Holten said he truly enjoys working with a K-9, noting that being without one for a few years after a promotion at the department was tough.

“It really killed me,” he said.

Now paired with Ghost daily, Holten said it’s fun and rewarding to see both his dog and Bosco get better.

The lieutenant said it’s also rewarding to see Blust, who has been handling K-9s for about six years, continue to improve.

“When we train, I have to keep up, or Eric will kick my butt,” Holten said.

Though the two have had success at nationals, they are not planning on going to this year’s event in Louisiana because of the cost to travel. But Holten said he’s gearing up for 2011, when the national competition comes to Detroit Lakes, Minn. In the meantime, the dogs and their handlers will continue to work hard in Austin.

“We’ve always had really high expectations,” Holten said. “There’s always something to get better at.”