When "Frankie" starts full-time patrol duty this spring, Deputy Chris Erion said he will be a good boy -- good at sniffing out crime, good at locating and subduing criminals, and good at helping rescuers find lost and missing people.
"He's under control all the time; he never goes over the top where were he loses control of himself," Erion said. "He has that strong drive that we need to have a working dog. He wants to work and play, whatever it is, he'll work as hard as he can for whatever reward you have.
"He has a good structure to him, a very strong dog," Erion added. "He is strong when he needs it but he's eager to please me. He's working hard for my attention and my affection so that's what is going to help and transfer over in training and work."
Frankie is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois from Holland, located by a police dog specialist in Rochester who handled the import. He officially became the property of the Sheriff's Office two weeks ago but has been living and working with Erion longer than that while Erion evaluated Frankie for police work.
"I liked him because he seemed very clear-headed and he is always thinking about what he is doing," Erion said. "Sometimes these types of dogs tend to go over the top with their thought process and forget about what they're doing. They work so hard that they forget about what they're doing."
This a new stage for Erion's career. Five years ago, he was a new K-9 officer working and training with a first-time police dog. He and "Destro" were rookies at the K-9 job together. Now Erion has a better idea of the training the process and what to expect. That excites him, he said, about Frankie's potential.
It's bittersweet, too, because Destro, who succumbed in October to complications from cancer surgery, died so unexpectedly but Frankie represents a new opportunity.
"He's a good dog," Erion said. "He's a different personality than Destro -- a hard worker, if not harder, as intelligent if not better. I'm looking forward to getting going with him because the first dog, you don't know what to expect. Now, coming into the second dog, you know what the end game looks like. You know what it's going to look like at the end. And it's just a lot more fun, a lot more relaxing."
Erion's new partner is named after Deputy Frank Bordonaro, who died in 2014.
"We always like to remind people that Frank is still in our thoughts and it seemed very appropriate to name him Frankie," Erion said. "Frank was my first field training officer. He taught me how to do the job for the most part."
Genesee County's newest law enforcement duo will head to Canada in March to enhance and refine Frankie's training and then Frankie will be a full-fledged police dog.
Around here, tracking people is a big part of a K-9's job and Erion said Frankie will return from Canada ready to look for bad guys on the lam or find lost and vulnerable adults or children.
"He can track a little bit right now," Erion said. "We really need to fine tune it and polish it up and we'll do that at our school in Canada in March. That's one of the specialties of the school. That's one of the skills that we come out with is the ability to track and find people and locate people whether they're criminals, vulnerable people -- whatever that is. And I'm confident he's going to be very good. I'm excited about his ability to track or really find anything so I can't wait until summer when we get moving."
For all Frankie's loyalty to Erion (necessary in a good police dog) and his obvious skills and good temperament, Erion admits it's still hard to let go of Destro. He moves forward with mixed feelings.
"Certainly the best part of my career has been working with dogs, hands down," Erion said. "That's been the best thing. It's bittersweet. Destro is a great dog. I haven't even taken his name off the (patrol) car because I am unable to do that yet. I feel a little bit of guilt going on without him. But again, I'm excited about the new dog, too, because I see a lot of potential. I know the potential now. I didn't know that about Destro. I didn't know what we could do with my first dog but seeing where we can go with this is pretty exciting."
Previously: 'Destro' takes on new job with a dogged enthusiasm
The community contributed thousands of dollars to the Sheriff's Office K-9 fund after Destro died and those funds cover the purchase of Frankie and the cost of his training. Sheriff William Sheron's office sent out this press release (pdf) thanking donors and the pictures below.
Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr., Correction Officer Eric Wagner, Deputy Chris Erion, Chief Deputy Joseph Graff, NYSCOPBA Western Region Vice President Joe Miano.
Sheriff's Employee Association President/Sr. Correction Officer Kevin Wolff, Deputy Chris Erion, Sr. Correction Officer Pete Hoy.
Students from Elba Central School which hosted an Applebee's Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser for the K-9 fund.