Argo, a dog with a passport, helps police watch over Strasburg

Argo is ready to play with his handler, Straburg K-9 police officer Eric Ramey. Argo has been with the department for four years. Sally Voth/Daily

STRASBURG – One of Strasburg Police Department’s newest recruits came all the way from Europe.

Argo is a 2 1/2-year-old German shepherd. He’s assigned to K-9 Officer Eric Ramey, who has been with the department almost four years. Ramey was partnered with Argo in March 2016.

“He actually has a passport,” Ramey said. “He came from Holland.”

The two attended an eight-week training course at Professional Canine Services in Culpeper, and continue to train there once or twice a month.

“[Argo] is narcotics detection,” Ramey said. “He also does tracking and article searches.”

An article search involves anything with a fresh human scent on it, he said. Argo can sniff out marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, crack, heroin, methamphetamine and opiate-based drugs.

“He loves to work,” Ramey said of Argo, who lives with him. “I recently just went on vacation. He hated every minute of it.”

The duo works some training in every day, whether it’s just general obedience or an article search.

The 77-pound canine has put his skills to use since arriving in Strasburg.

“We’ve had some pretty good seizures in the year that I’ve had him,” Ramey said. “Right now, I’ve got the only dog in the county, so I get used by other jurisdictions, [such as] Woodstock, the [Shenandoah County] Sheriff’s Office. I’ve even [been called] to Front Royal, Warren County if their dogs aren’t available and I am.”

Argo is rewarded for his work with play.

“He’s got three different toys: a rubber ball, a nylon tug, and then a rubber hose,” Ramey said. “For narcotic detection work, his reward would be the nylon tug.

“He has way too much drive to be just a house dog right now. Maybe once he retires and gets to that point in life, but right now he’s just way too rambunctious to be a lap dog or a house dog.”

Ramey, a Skyline High School graduate, has been interested in police work from a young age, and it was while he was attending Ressie Jeffries Elementary that he got interested in canine work.

“I remember a long time ago, there was a canine handler that came to my school and talked to us,” Ramey said. “It was a career day kind of a thing. That sparked my interest and it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it’s something I got an opportunity to do at a fairly early part in my career.”

Canines can work until they’re 8-10 in general, according to Ramey. His dog has the right temperament for the job.

“He’s great,” Ramey said. “He’s super social. He’s happy almost all the time. He gets cranky when he’s not working.”