MTSU’s Police Dog
October 7, 2020
For MTSU Police K9 handler and patrol specialist Zachery Brooker, the loyalty he receives from his K9 Bobby “can’t be compared.”
This month marks the anniversary of the dog’s first year of service for the campus police department. Bobby and Brooker have been “very fortunate to have a really good first year” and the other officers “love having Bobby here,” Brooker said.
Bobby is a 2-year-old German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix.
Brooker, originally from Michigan, joined the MTSU department in May 2017. He had been a member of the military and graduated from the Walters State Police Academy before meeting Bobby, but K9 training was “seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
In addition to the dog’s capabilities of tracking others and alerting to the presence of illicit substances, the K9 adds an important safety aspect to the community: suspects are more compliant because of Bobby’s presence, and he can “defend and protect both officers and civilians,” Brooker said.
He encourages the other officers to get to know their furry coworker. They’re always welcome to play and spend time with Bobby because the stronger the relationships are between Bobby and his human team, the more successful they’ll all be in the field, he said.
The dog feeds off of everyone’s energy. “It’s what he lives for,” said Brooker, “that ‘good boy,’ that praise, and his toys, of course.”
One winter night, Bobby’s keen sense of smell and training helped to safely reunite a child, wandering out in the cold, with his mother. Most recently, he tracked down and apprehended a suspect.
Bobby also has helped the Murfreesboro Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
Brooker’s job doesn’t stop when he clocks out. Bobby comes home with him. The dog’s lifestyle is like that of an athlete’s: healthy treats like carrots and apples, hydration, rest and recovery and plenty of training and exercise. Brooker starts each morning by taking Bobby out for a 30-minute game of fetch.
Being the department’s sole K9 handler also means long hours at work.
“There are days when it’s tough, you’re tired,” said Brooker. “There’s been more times than not with him where because of his capabilities, he’s had to stay late. It’s always worth it to see the officers’ reactions to him doing his job well.”
Bobby has been out to several campus events where people “love on him,” and all of his interactions have been positive, Brooker said.
“We work really hard together, and we do it for the campus community,” said Brooker. “I can’t express enough that it’s for them. This department really cares about the community it serves.”