The Maryland Natural Resources Police mourned the passing last Wednesday of K-9 Blu, assigned to Western Maryland in 2007. The black Labrador retriever was 10 years, three months old and was suffering from lymphoma.
“Blu and his handler, Officer Curt Dieterle, were the epitome of what it takes to be a successful K-9 team,” said Sgt. Lisa Nyland, the unit leader. “They were motivated, competent, professional and accessible to not only NRP but to other agencies and the public as well. Blu’s passing leaves a huge void in our K-9 unit that will be very hard to fill.”
Barrel-chested with a friendly smile that delighted children, Blu was trained for three missions ─ track, search for an item, such as a gun, and detect wildlife ─ tasks the dog performed with gusto.
“He would just lock on and work it until he solved it. He’s the best partner an officer could have and was an asset to the agency,” said Dieterle.
“Thanks to Blu’s excellent human tracking capabilities, I was back and safe,” wrote Susan Wray of the dog’s 5.7-mile search leading to her rescue. “The K-9 is partly responsible for saving my life.”
Despite his AKC recognition, Blu didn’t come from a line of pure-bred dogs. Found in a shelter by Florida game officials and transferred to Dieterle’s care, the officer and Blu became an NRP team after passing a rigorous 400-hour training course.
In subsequent years, dog and handler participated in four annual training sessions, knowing that it took 10 practice missions to remain sharp for the one that counted.
Blu’s tracking resume included finding evidence in the 2010 assault and kidnapping of a child and leading the way in countless illegal hunting and fishing poaching cases.
The team’s final case was Christmas Day last year, when they tracked an illegal hunter in Frederick County. Blu was retired in February and in May, the dog was honored by the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office.
“If you were lost, he’d be the dog you’d want tracking you because he’d never give up,” said Dieterle. “Never.”