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Mike and Ike: Cop and dog duo make first drug find

Investigator and K-9 handler Mike Christopherson and his partner Ike, a dual-purpose German Shepherd recently returned from training together and are the newest team out of the Perham Police Department. Perham Focus/Kim Brasel

After three months of grueling training, Mike Christopherson and his canine companion Ike have completed their first job together.

Though the duo is part of the Perham Police Department, the first call for a drug search came in from Wadena, just two days after Mike and Ike returned from training. In the name of public safety, the partners responded.

The first real-world sniff was a worrisome one for Christopherson, who knew that if they got it wrong, it could send a message that Ike didn't have a dependable nose.

But as he soon found out, there was nothing to worry about.

Ike indicated on a car search that led to about three ounces of meth and $3,100 being recovered.

"For the first sniff coming out of training, it was pretty good," Christopherson said.

Getting Ike

The road to bringing in what Perham Police Chief Jason Hoaby believes is the first K-9 to the police department began with Christopherson, who expressed interest in the idea. Christopherson, an investigator and now K-9 handler, who has worked at Perham since 2005, started researching the idea, brought it up to Hoaby, then city manager Jonathan Smith and gained approval to move forward with raising funds for the dog.

Finally, Ike was selected from a breeder in the Czech Republic and Christopherson got to meet the German Shepherd pup at the airport in August. From there on, the two have gone everywhere together and endured the three months of training at the McDonough K9 training in Blaine.

The training that dog and handler had to go through was tough, according to Christopherson.

"Definitely the hardest training I've ever come across," he said. "I thought it would be physical, but not that physical."

Both dog and trainer lost weight in the exercises.

Ike is considered a dual-purpose dog, meaning he can do drug sniffing and human searching. He can be used in search and rescue or apprehension that includes the use of a bite, if allowed.

Christopherson gave an example of human scent where a suspect might run away and throw evidence somewhere. Because Ike has such acute smelling, the human scent left on the object such as keys or a gun, can be found. Ike is trained to lay down next to the object when he finds the scent.

"That can take a lot of personnel to perform a search that he can do alone," Christopherson said.

He is trained in searching buildings and vehicles for people or narcotics. That training will come in handy when Ike is expected to begin searches within the Perham School District.

Christopherson and Hoaby agree that just having a dog presence in the area could help crack down on drugs.

"Hopefully, it is going to be a benefit to the community," Hoaby said. "I think it will be."

He added that Christopherson and Ike are not only a benefit to the Perham area, but surrounding areas in need may get their help, too. Just getting the word out about a dog in the area that can effectively sniff drugs can act as a major deterrent.

Christopherson believes Ike is only going to get better as time goes on.

"Across the board, he is awesome," he said. "He is everything I could hope for."

The two work together, stay together and play together in order to keep a strong bond.

Ike turns 2 in January and is expected to be in service for 8-10 years.