Chip off the old block: K-9 officer retires

By Becky Bell

Chip is 8 years old, but he’s already retired. 

Of course, in dog years, that makes him 56 which is still an admirable age for retirement for this black lab who is a former K-9 officer. Chip lives with his last handler, K-9 School Resource Officer Dan Mullaney.

“He’s my buddy,” Mullaney said. “It’s strange going to work without him.”

Mullaney said K-9 dogs are retired because of age, lack of drive or health issues. Chip just didn’t have the same drive he used to have in searching for drugs on campuses in Conway, Mullaney said. Although Chip enjoyed finding the drugs and being rewarded with a squeaky tennis ball, his favorite part of the job was visiting with the small children on the elementary campuses. 

“Certain times of the year, we would have little safety assemblies and talk about bicycle safety, and everyone wanted to see the dog,” Mullaney said. “We would set up boxes and show how he would find the drugs. He was a secondary mascot. During safety assembly, he was lying in the middle of the kids.”

Students were amazed by Chip’s sniffing abilities. Mullaney said Chip is trained to find narcotics and firearms.

“I have had him for the last three years and we used him in the schools for locker searches and backpack searches,” Mullaney said. “Generally speaking, we never interrupted classes to do backpack searches as education was of the utmost importance. If we had information that a student possibly had something on them, we would do a search, but that was very few and far between.”

Sometimes Chip made appearances to reward special-needs students.

“Well, he is a big goofball, and he was just as much of a pet as he was a working dog,” Mullaney said. “I could use him if we had students with disabilities who were hiding under the desk or who were in noncompliance with the teachers. We could use the dog as a reward. It would be like, ‘Do what you are asked, and we will bring the dog in.’ And he loved kids. He loved the small kids.”

When they think about K-9 dogs, most people probably have the mental image of a German shepherd. But police dogs these days vary and can be labs, bloodhounds, shorthaired pointers or even pit bulls. 

Most K-9 dogs in Arkansas are trained at the Little Rock Canine Academy and this was also the case with Chip. He spent the first three years of his six-year career with officer Sean Julian.

Although it was initially strange to have a partner since he was accustomed to patrolling solo, Mullaney said he misses having Chip by his side. And he isn’t alone. Chip misses it, too.

“He’s been retired since December and he still tries to follow me out of the house every morning,” he said. “Every morning he comes to the door. As soon as I put my boots on, he starts to get excited.”

Luckily, Chip still visits the schools on occasion. Plus, he has Mullaney’s four children and their friends.

And at night, he snuggles up to Mullaney’s son Ben.