Catching criminals, stealing hearts

A real charmer if you’re not a bad guy, Odin the German shepherd joins the ranks of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office, notches his first arrest on week one

AFTER HE WAS sworn in as Ozaukee County’s newest K-9 officer last week, 2-year-old German shepherd Odin received a warm welcome from a group of children and several of his fellow officers, including (right photo, back row, from left) his handler Deputy Paul Kickhaver, Sheriff Jim Johnson, Undersheriff Christy Knowles and Lt. Justin Kaas.
Ozaukee Press staff

Ozaukee County’s newest deputy didn’t recite the oath of office when he was sworn in by Sheriff Jim Johnson last week, but he held his paw up high with the help of his partner, Deputy Paul Kickhaver, as he received his badge.

He charmed the crowd with his regal build and his deep brown puppy eyes, but make no mistake, Odin is a working dog.

By the end of last week, he already had his first arrest, made during a traffic stop by Kickhaver. Odin detected the smell of narcotics and Kickhaver searched the vehicle, finding drug paraphernalia.

Like most rookies, Odin is eager to work, Kickhaver said.

“He loves to work,” he said. “He whines every morning we don’t go to work.”

Odin, a 2-year-old German shepherd, is the county’s third K-9 officer, joining the ranks of Wasko and his trainer Sgt. Brad Arndt and Rev and his trainer Sgt. Becky Ronan.

Odin will replace Wasko, who has been with the department since 2015 and will be retiring by the end of the year, Sheriff Jim Johnson said.

Odin has been trained in narcotics detection, tracking people, handler protection and criminal apprehension, and as he gets older he will be trained to join the Special Response Team, Kickhaver said.

Odin will also handle some public relations duties, visiting schools and doing demonstrations, but that will take a little time, he said.

“He’s brand new,” he said. “I’m still working on getting him to relax around people.”

The dogs work first and second shifts, and are on call during third shift.

Odin is the fifth K-9 officer for the Sheriff’s Office. Caro was the first, serving from about 1991 to 1995, followed by Argo, who served from 1996 to 2002. Argo’s handler was Johnson.

There was then about a 13-year gap before the department got Wasko in 2015 and Rev in 2016.

The K-9 program is supported by donations, and Johnson said the bulk of the $14,000 cost of Odin came from a donation by 51 Minds Production, owned by retired FBI agent Joe Pistone and retired Florida undercover officer Jeff Palmer.

Pistone, Johnson said, worked undercover as Donnie Brasco — a character memorialized in the movies — and he worked with the Sheriff’s Office on the Traci Hammerburg murder case, a cold case that the department solved in 2019.

Odin came from Steinig Tal Kennels in Campbellsport, and Kickhaver said he knew from the start that this was the dog for him.

They brought three dogs out when he arrived, Kickhaver said, “and I was like, ‘that one.’ I could just tell.”

Odin, he said, wanted to be near him, even when he was in his kennel.

“You could tell he wanted to serve,” Kickhaver said.

Odin isn’t the new officer’s original name. He had a long German moniker, but Kickhaver suggested Odin to Johnson.

Odin is the Norse god of war and a protector of heroes, Kickhaver said.

That’s appropriate, he said, since “he’s there to watch over me.

“That, and it’s easier to say (than his original name).”

Odin, he said, is social and enjoys being around people. He’s playful, loves toys playing fetch and tug of war. And when he does something wrong, look out for those puppy eyes, Kickhaver said.

“He’s still got a lot of puppy in him,” Kickhaver said.

But when it’s time to work, Odin is ready, he said, adding the canine responds to commands in German.

The duo train in Campbellsport twice a month for a total of 16 hours, Kickhaver said, both to keep Odin’s skills up and to teach him new things.

“It’s all new and it’s very exciting for him,” he said.

Kickhaver and Odin have been working together since mid-July, training and getting to know one another.

Odin stays with Kickhaver, his wife Amanda and their children, Paul, 7, and Lyanna, 5, at their Grafton home. He’s also getting to know their other dog, an 11-year-old chocolate Labrador named Jackson.

“They get along quite well,” Kickhaver said. “Odin seems to be rubbing off on him — he (Jackson) was never one to play around with toys, but the other day I came home and he had a ball in his mouth.”
And when the dogs play around, Kickhaver said, “I can tell Odin lays off of him because he’s older.”

Odin sleeps in a kennel, and Kickhaver said he has two for him, one outside and the other in his garage.

“He prefers to be outside,” he said. “Inside, he’s always walking to the door, trying to get outside.”

Staying in the kennel also signals to Odin that he’s a work dog, not just a pet, Kickhaver said.

“We don’t want him to feel like he’s an actual pet or he won’t want to work,” he said. “We need to find a balance.”

Life with Odin, he said, is “definitely rewarding. I’m still learning him.

“I don’t think I could have picked out a better dog.”


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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