Wicomico K-9 retiring after years of dedicated service

Wicomico County Sheriff Office Deputy First Class Jeff Heath and his K-9 Uke pose together. Uke, who was put into service in February 2013 for Narcotics, Tracking and Apprehension, will retire this month.

It’s likely there’s a steak in Uke Heath’s future.

“He deserves it,” his handler, Wicomico County Deputy First Class Jeff Heath said about his partner, a 9-year-old K-9, who, this week, retired from law enforcement after nearly five years and will be rewarded for his dedication.

The short-haired Belgian Malinois, with markings similar to a German Shepherd’s, was donated to the sheriff’s office by a state trooper in Delaware.

Nicknamed Ukulele by Heath, the dog was trained in apprehension and narcotics.

“He isn’t very social, but he shows no aggression at all toward me or my wife. She can take control.

“He’s very obedient. He definitely keeps a watchful eye on me when we’re working. If I get out of the car, he wakes right up and watches me. Now that he’s retiring, he won’t be coming to work with me, so I’ve been trying to wean him off riding in the police car, but I can take him for rides in my car,” Heath said.

The keeper of many toys, Uke favors stuffed animals. Instead of ripping out their squeakers, as dogs typically manage, “he loves on them,” Heath said, laughing.

Heath won’t be welcoming a replacement dog, but, after working with two, will continue patrolling alone so that another deputy can have the opportunity to work with a four-legged partner.

He’ll miss Uke napping in the car, and, when necessary, using skills he learned from Wicomico County Deputy First Class J.C. Richardson, who trained him.

“He would be lying there sleeping, but he knew the turns we were making on the way home and he would get right up,” Heath said.

“I’ve been blessed with two dogs who did not bark in my car unless it was something that warranted it. I’ve been blessed that Uke always had a watchful eye on me. I never deployed him, but we had numerous surrenders, when somebody gave up so they don’t get bitten. He’s only 60 or 65 pounds but he could take somebody down well over 300 pounds,” Heath said.

“Uke is an awesome dog. We were a great team.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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