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K-9 Unit’s ‘Granddaddy’ Retires : Dogged Dirk Has His Day of Glory

Times Staff Writer

He had risked his life more times than any of his comrades on the Santa Ana police force could remember. And admiring officers from police agencies throughout Orange County turned out for his retirement party Tuesday at Santa Ana police headquarters.

A couple of honorary plaques sat on a table next to the going-away presents in the second-floor officers’ lounge. Santa Ana Police Officer Dennis Scott was beginning to get a lump in his throat as he contemplated saying goodby to his partner for the past 2 1/2 years, Dirk Von der Schlossmuhle.

“It’s just been the best duty assignment I’ve ever had,” Scott said, adding that he will switch to the investigative division rather than start all over with a new partner. “I’d just rather end it with him.”

Dirk looked up at his partner, licked his chops and let out a yawn. The granddaddy of the Santa Ana Police Department’s canine unit, refreshed after a month of unlimited dog food and napping on the couch, showed none of his partner’s nostalgia.

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And why should he? After three-quarters of a lifetime sniffing out bad guys, one could safely say it’s been a dog’s life for Dirk.

He has jumped through a patrol car window to save Scott from an attacking criminal. He has kept at bay a robbery suspect armed with a nail-studded board, despite repeated and bloody blows to the nose. He once helped make five felony arrests in single day.

In his 6 1/2 years of active duty, Dirk has helped officers catch some 140 criminals, more than any other police dog in the county, according to Santa Ana Police Sgt. Raul Luna, head of the department’s canine unit.

“He can sniff doors that are closed and tell you if somebody is behind (them),” Luna said in a voice full of admiration. “He’s just had a steady, active career here at the department.”

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But in all those years and with all that pressure, hadn’t Dirk ever bitten the wrong person?

“We’re not going to get into that,” Luna snapped. “This is a retirement party.”

Scott, who has kept the 8 1/2-year-old Dirk at home since they became partners and will care for him in his retirement, was more forthcoming.

“He bit me twice,” he said with a grin. “Once in the leg and once in the stomach.”

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That was when the two first met, Scott said. “Now, he wouldn’t do that for the world.”

Scott said the grizzled but still able Dirk has adjusted without a hitch to his new life in retirement, which is more than Scott can say for himself.

When the plaques had been read and the shiny new doggie dish presented, a call of “Speech!” rang through the room.

Dirk gave a dignified stare.

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But Scott ducked his head as his eyes filled with tears. He pulled on Dirk’s leash and croaked, “Naw, I’ll talk to you all later.”


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