Billings Police recently announced one of their K-9 Officers retired after almost nine years of service.
Since 2010, Cuff has been patrolling Billings streets with Officer Rob Vickery. Now about eleven years old, Cuff will live out his days taking it easy in retirement.
Cuff was a dual purpose police dog for BPD. That means he not only helped find different drugs, he's also a patrol dog deployed with BPD officers.
Officer Vickery trained Cuff himself. He's the second patrol dog Vickery has had since he started with BPD in 1997.
"You get used to having them with you, you get used to doing things with them, working them on the street, all those kinds of things and it's been kind of a strange week this week not having a dog in the car," said Vickery.
Officer Vickery estimates Cuff went on 3,200 deployments over the course of his career, and seized over 20 pounds of meth off the streets.
Vickery said most K-9 officers serve for an average of 6 to 7 years. He said he thinks Cuff lasted nearly nine years due to his unusually large size.
Cuff is a Belgian Malinois. Vickery said most Belgian Malinois dogs weigh 60 to 65 pounds, but Cuff weights in at 90 to 95 pounds. He also has much larger joints, helping him remain healthy despite all the physical contact he has endured.
Vickery explained, "It's usually the training that's the most hard on the dogs. We equate it to being like a linebacker in the NFL. They go and they hit things all the time in training and so it's very hard on their bodies, but he was able to endure it I think because of his size."
Vickery said they've done so much together and been so successful in almost nine years together; it's tough to find just one memory of Cuff that sticks out.
He recalled one memory with Cuff a few years ago, "I was working night shift with Cuff and we had a stained glass building downtown get broken into. We sent Cuff in and sure enough he starts barking and he finds the guy hidden behind the door, and it's just kind of cool to validate all the training you do in an actual deployment, and get him to be successful and he was."
Cuff is just one week into his retirement, and Vickery said he's still getting used to the new lifestyle. He says everyday Cuff still tries to get in the car with him to go back to work.
Vickery hopes Cuff enjoys the rest of his days relaxing at home with him and his family.
"He's one of those dogs that when he's home, he's a dog for the most part, he is able to flip that switch and turn it off. So, when we're at work he's all business, but when we're not at work he just wants to get pet, and lay on the couch, and go out and chase cars and do all that stuff that regular dogs do," said Vickery.
Despite his history with chasing down and tackling bad guys, Cuff was a gentle and playful dog who loved lots of attention.
Vickery said the K-9 officers are actually trained to bite and tackle like it's a game and the dogs aren't hostile, they think they're playing.
After Cuff's retirement, Billings Police has four K-9 officers left.