About a dozen Olympia children made a new, furry friend Wednesday night at meet-and-greet with Olympia police dog Melnic.
The 5-year-old K-9 and his handler, Officer Randy Wilson, wowed their fans with tricks, stories and a bite demonstration at Olympia City Hall. Wilson fielded questions from the crowd and explained what it’s like to work and live with the German shepherd.
The event was the capstone to the Where’s Melnic? scavenger hunt that took place in downtown Olympia in December. Children were able to search for posters of the dog in store windows and turn in a list of their locations to the police department. In return, they received a “pawtographed” photo of Melnic and an opportunity to meet the dog himself.
Together, the Wilson and Melnic have made 38 arrests — seven in misdemeanor cases and 31 in felony cases. Wilson said he couldn’t have caught any of those suspects without Melnic, whom he calls “Mel” for short.
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But at the end of the day, Melnic is a member of the family. Wilson said his young children get along great with the dog, and Melnic was equally friendly with the children who came forward to pet him.
Henrik Daray, 9, said he learned about Where’s Melnic? during a trip to the optometrist. He saw a flier advertising the contest and asked his mom if he could participate.
He was thrilled to meet Melnic, whom he described as energetic and shaggy.
“I think Melnic is a really good dog,” he said.
“He’s got the perfect demeanor,” Wilson said. “He’s one of the least high-strung police dogs, and he loves his job.”
Children in the crowd asked dozens of questions about Melnic’s work — whether he sniffed for bombs, how old he was, when he would likely retire and whether Wilson will keep him once Melnic is too old to work.
Wilson told them that Melnic was specifically trained to detect the odor of humans and that he isn’t used to find drugs or bombs. He said Melnic is five and has been working for the Olympia Police Department for three years. He explained that most police dogs retire between the ages of 8 and 11 and that Melnic will remain a part of his family upon his retirement.
“We’ve bonded enough that I’ll never want to get rid of him,” Wilson said.