Mt. Juliet Police Cpl. James Owens said he's already bonded with his new partner on the force and expects that bond to grow everyday as they work as a team on the streets of Mt. Juliet.
They are so close this duo lives together.
Owens and his partner, who was born in central Europe, have been specifically trained as a pair to provide vital support to the police department in a number of areas and will be on a flexible shift during peak activity times.
Majlo ('My-Low') is Owens' new partner and they will start working together this week, said Owens. Majlo is a year old Belgian Malino/German Shepherd mix and is MJPD's only K-9 (homophone of "canine") officer.
On the force for three and a half years, Owens, 28, said he's always wanted to have a K-9 partner. Seven years in the Army, then straight to the Police Academy, Owens loves dogs and had a German Shepherd as a child.
"I put a bug in the Chief's ear and we final got approval from administration," Owens explained. "K-9's are a benefit, not only to us, but also for the community."
Majlo has something we humans don't.
"He can do so many things we can't as officers," said this smitten officer. "Their nose is 1,000 times more sensitive than ours. So, this helps with sniffing out narcotics, or tracing peoples' scents, if someone wanders from home and such."
Majlo's mixed heritage brings in several great personalities for a K-9 officer. The Belgian part is "very somber" compared to a pure bred German Shepherd and Owens said that part of Majlo is a "little tougher, and, easier to train."
Majlo, as a pup, was personally handpick for this job. U.S. specialists travel all the way to Europe to select dogs for this profession.
"They look for the dogs' drive, if they want to play, and basically if they are smart," said Owens.
Owens said breeding dogs for this specialty is a sport in Europe, like football is in America.
"Over there, there is so much competition to breed police service dogs," said Owens.
Though Owens might have been the officer who pushed for a K-9 to join the force, he did have to apply for the job.
"I interviewed to be the handler of the yet to be picked Majlo," he said.
Owens was chosen and he and Assistant Chief Michael Mullins traveled to Florida in April to work with a "vendor" to find their K-9 officer.
"We looked at four or five dogs, a variety of breeds," Owens said.
And while Majlo was the youngest, something about him captured Owens' attention.
"I liked the way he ran through the tests and was able to do the job," said Owens. "He was very agile and our top pick. It was a pretty easy choice."
Already, the critical bond had cemented.
They stayed in Florida for a month, and both stayed in a hotel overnight to get to know each other better. During the day they learned to track down narcotics through odor detection, track people, conduct building searches, and much more.
And while Owens missed his wife of four years and 9 year old daughter, he knew he signed on for an important partnership and was training their fourth (five counting their existing dog) family member.
Yes, Majlo lives with Owens and his family.
"They were excited about Majlo coming," Owens said. "When I as in Florida I sent lots of pictures."
They passed two evaluations and Majlo is now a certified member of the United States Police Canine Association.
Aside from Majlo striking appearance and almost human like eyes, Owens said he has a wonderful personality and respects this dog is very young for his position. Most K-9's are at least 2 years old when hired.
"The night we got home, he immediately began playing with our other dog," said Owens. "He's like a family member now. No, we aren't afraid because he's trained for this job. He's trained to read body language and he knows we love him."
He's a "good judge of character," said Owens.
But, when these partners are on the streets, Majlo is all business. He's "dual purpose," and has the capabilities of performing building searches, tracking missing persons or suspects, article searches, narcotics detection and criminal apprehensions. And, he has a special bulletproof vest, donated to him by the Harvey Freeman Order of the Eastern Star's Chapter 181.
"Our police officers deserve the best possible tools to help them in their efforts to keep Mt. Juliet safe," said Chief James Hambrick. "Adding Majlo to our ranks improves our response capabilities and allows our officers to more effectively serve the community."
Also, Owens and Majlo have a special SUV for their shifts. It's equipped with a dog kennel and has a heat sensor alarm that will light up and start the siren and roll down the windows, as well as start a fan so Owens will be alerted if he's outside the car and it gets too hot for Majlo.
Owens just got back from a patrol canine conference in Nashville to learn even more about his partnership with Majlo.
Owens knows Majlo may see danger.
"We both know our roles," he said. "We don't have to think about what to do together, we know. I know I may sometime have to deploy him. He shows love for me and won't hesitate. He knows that's his job."
Owens said it's really quite simple.
"Majlo protects me, and I'll protect him," he said quietly.