TYLER, Texas — Tyler K-9 Officer Izzie and his partner Garrett Martin won the top prize at the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association Conference in Fort Worth.
According to the TPD, the conference featured 120 K-9 units from across the country for four days to participate in training and competition.
"You have a certain amount of time and a certain amount of things in there to find," Izzie's handle, Officer Garrett Martin explained. "And basically whoever finds the most in the allotted time will win the competition."
Izzie and Martin also took home the Bark, Bandit Trooper Award for the top score for all dogs over five years old.
While Martin and Izzie have received a trophy and some good-natured ribbing from their fellow peers, Martin remains humble.
"Several of the organizations from the area come out here and train every Wednesday or every other Wednesday depending on our schedules," Officer Martin said. "So these dogs stay fresh on the narcotics odors and discipline and obedience. I wouldn't say that it makes me better than any of the other dogs out here, we just happened to do well in a competition."
That prize does not mean much to Izzie.
"All the work that she does is for that toy so she could care less about a trophy or anything like that," Officer Martin said.
When asked about Izzie's personality Officer Martin was all smiles.
"She's pretty sweet for a police dog. She likes to play with her ball. We get home at night and we take her collar off. It's like taking her uniform off, so when she's at home, she's like any other dog," Officer Martin said. "Right now, she's kind of like any other dog, but as soon as you take the toy away and she gets the command to go search, you can tell she goes into work mode."
There is a strong bond between a K-9 and her handler.
"It's just like having another partner, no doubt about it. There's nothing the dog will not do to protect the handler," Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said.
Law enforcement from across East Texas get together weekly or bi-weekly for training.
"These guys have a great rapport with one another, the training they do together is second to none, and that shows what kind of what can come out of relationships like that," Sheriff Smith explained.
Izzie was not the only K-9 officer who received an award at the conference.
Seven K-9s from East Texas placed in the top 50.
"That shows you the kind of training that they conduct here, it's working," Sheriff Smith said. "When you get that, that placing out of 120 canines of cities like Houston, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio, down here, lower on the list and we're up here. I'm proud of it."
Another Tyler Police Department K-9, Paco was awarded the NDAA Meritorious Service Award at the conference for his more than eight years of service with Tyler PD.