For Waxahachie Police canine Officer Chance Huckabee and his four-legged partner, Cross, being named "Top Dog" is more than just a high honor. It is validation that the two are quite the team and are ready for the national competition.
The pair received the honor after they competed April 12 in Sulphur Springs at the Region 20 United States Police Canine Association certification and field trials. Sixteen handlers and their dogs from around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex took part in the event to test the skills they use while on patrol.
Cross’ overall performance in the competition earned him the title as top dog.
Huckabee stated that he was surprised to receive this honor because of the fierce competition they faced that day.
"I was shocked because there were some really good dogs this year," Huckabee said
He added the competition also acts the certification process that law enforcement canines are required to go through annual to show their proficiency in their skill set.
Throughout the competition, both the Huckabee and Cross were judged on the handler's over the canine and the obedience displayed. The dogs were judged on their ability to perform tasks, such as locating narcotics.
Cross placed first in the patrol category, which tests skills such as agility, obedience, and searches. He placed seventh in narcotics where searches of both vehicle and room searched were conducted. The drug odors used in the test included marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines. Cross also placed second in the apprehension test.
Huckabee explained, as a part of the apprehension test, a running recall was done. A running recall tests how well the dog will obey its handler in returning to them after being set loose to capture a suspect.
Huckabee stated he would call Cross back to him, where he sat until he is ready to be sent out again. By earning the title of top dog, the pair will go onto compete on the national level in Florida.
Huckabee and Cross have worked together for the past six years at the department and have developed a strong bond that helps them as they patrol the streets.
“We have gotten to the point now, if I need him to do something, I don’t need to give him voice commands. I can point and tell him where to go. He can read me and I can read him,” Huckabee said. “If I am on a traffic stop, I know if someone is starting to walk up on me because he starts to sound off. He does not let people sneak up on me. He is very protective.”
Huckabee stated he was drawn to work as a canine officer because of his experience taking part in a police explorer program growing up. At the time he didn’t realize the commitment involved with taking on this responsibility,.
He added he would not trade it for anything.
“Not everyone can do this job. When I first started, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be and how much work it is going to take. You have always got to go to training and to stay on top of him,” Huckabee shared. “He becomes part of your family like a child. Sometimes he acts like a child. He knows what to do and then he doesn’t do it.”
Huckabee stated the team will continue to train and work on keeping their skill sharp and ready for use.
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby stated he is proud of the accomplishment earned by Huckabee and Cross.
“It just shows us what a valuable asset that we have in our department with Cross and officer Huckabee. It validates the quality of dog that we have and the abilities that he has,” Goolsby said. “Just trying to maintain it at the level that we are at that is the big challenge. If he is performing at this level that is all that we can ask. It is going to be great to see him place high on a national competition.”