[John Shishmanian/ NorwichBulletin.com]
PLAINFIELD — Inside Plainfield police headquarters on Friday, the department’s newest officer was laser-focused on a spiky, yellow ball.
When the ball was launched by Officer Ryan Barile, Warin, a 2-year-old, 72-pound German shepherd with a black muzzle, chocolate-and-tan fur and a brushy tail, lunged after the toy before settling at his handler’s feet.
“Warin definitely loves his ball and when he sees that, he’s ready to roll,” Barile, a two-year veteran of the department said, stroking his partner’s coat. “I can say I definitely would not have expected to have a dog this early in my career, but it’s going to be a great challenge and I’m looking forward to embracing every minute of it.”
Barile, 24, said Warin — the name means “protector” or “defender” in German, is on track to become the force’s newest patrol canine, a job that fits the animal’s pedigree to a T.
“His dad is with the New York City Police Department’s emergency services unit and the minute I saw video of Warin, I knew he was the right dog,” Barile said.
Once Barile was given the go-ahead a few months back to begin searching for a new patrol dog, he hit the ground running. He hooked up with the Hometown Foundation Inc. group out of Cheshire that allowed the officer to select Warin from a breeder and covered the cost.
“This foundation has gone above and beyond and is continuing to donate items including a GPS collar, bite sleeves and other specialized equipment,” Barile said. “Plainfield, like most police departments in the country, doesn’t have a specific K9 budget and strictly rely on their communities and private donations and grants to operate a successful program.”
And the community has stepped up with local banks, individual donators and community groups pledging help to cover the costs of supplies, protective gear and other items.
Warin, once he completes a 16-week state police K9 training class in the fall, will be the department’s second working police dog. But unlike Vail, the department’s narcotics police dog, Warin will be trained to handle patrol-related issues, Chief Michael Surprenant said.
“That kind of work includes tracking suspects and missing persons, from children that wandered from home to elderly folks with Alzheimer’s,” he said. “In addition, Warin will be trained to protect his handler and other officers and hunt down evidence.”
Warin’s reward-based centers around that yellow ball, while drug-sniffing police dogs work on a food-incentive system.
Dog such as Warin can easily cost a department upwards of $8,000 — too dear a price for town and department that struggled through a thorny budget cycle this year.
“We know your budget seasons are going to be tight, so we’re always on the lookout for organizations that can support us,” Surprenant said. “And Barile is an eager young officer who reached out and got us this dog.”
Barile, who grew up around dogs, said Warin quickly warmed to his new surroundings.
“He’s been great at the department, socializing with everyone as if he’s known them his entire life,” he said. “He’s a friendly dog and, as the department’s community resource officer, I expect we’ll be out at parades and in schools. I did have to transition him off his old raw meat diet to kibble — that much meat is pretty expensive.”
By John Penney