Ghost is top dog

Published 5:18 pm Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lt. Matt Holten and partner Ghost run through a K9 exhibition Tuesday night during the National Night Out event held at Bandshell Park. -- Herald file photo

Austin Police Department’s K9 Ghost is top dog — literally.

Ghost, with the help of his K9 officer Lt. Matt Holten, was named the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) No. 1 overall dog last week at the National Trainers Certification in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

“It’s kind of humbling,” Holten said.

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Holten has participated in seven national certifications with two different dogs, and although he’s come in second place before, he hadn’t come in first until now.

“I guess persistence paid off,” he said.

Holten and his partner, patrol officer Eric Blust, competed in the certification with Ghost and K9 Bosco.

The two Austin dogs were up against 82 canines from around the country, including two dogs from Florida that Holten said are “some of the best police dogs in the country.”

Ghost also placed fifth in the category of suspect search and evidence recovery.

Blust’s dog finished about 22nd place overall, Holten said.

Holten and Blust advanced to nationals after the regional competition in July. One team in each of the 25 regions is sent to the national competition.

Patrol officer Ryan Leif accompanied Holten, Blust and the canines to the competition as the decoy. According to Holten, the decoy runs down the field acting like a criminal so the dog will chase him.

“A big part of this is having a good decoy, and Ryan is great,” Holten said. “He takes a really good pounding from the dogs. We wouldn’t have done this well if it wasn’t for Ryan.”

“It was cool. I figured we’d have a chance, but there are a lot of good police dogs in the USPCA,” he added.