Deputy and partner share special bond

Monday, May 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) -- Ottawa County Reserve Deputy Brandi Honey trusts a male in her life enough to put her life in his hands. The male is a German shepherd named Thor.

"I'm fully aware that I'm not as strong as most men, maybe not even as all women," said Honey. "Someone may beat me up or Thor up but they couldn't take both of us."

"I also know that Thor will not let me get hurt."

She explained that Thor sees a search as a big game.

Thor is 2 1/2 years old and weighs approximately 75 pounds.

Honey, 23, has been involved with law enforcement since she graduated from school. She began her career with the lake patrol, became a jailer with the Ottawa County Jail in 1997 and a reserve deputy with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department in 1998.

"I've always been around law enforcement," she said. "My mom was a dispatcher with the Grove Police Department since I was 12."

A dog person, as Honey calls herself, she observed and was inspired by Trooper Mark Trunk working with his Labrador and Grove officers working with their dogs.

Her goal at the moment is to "get Thor out on the streets and start working him."

Honey imported Thor from Germany in 1998, at her own expense. He was certified to search for narcotics in May 1999 by state and federal agencies.

Honey expects Thor to be certified by spring for tracking and handler protection.

"The only things he won't be certified in will be cadaver search and bomb search," she said.

Bomb search is a risk that Honey is not willing for her dog to take and she's not comfortable with searching for dead bodies.

Although Sheriff Dennis King said he thinks dogs are overrated in police work, he's complimentary of Honey's abilities as a dog handler.

"Brandi and Thor have been a continuous asset to the jail," he said, "And help to keep it as clean (of drugs) as possible."

Honey has even gotten her husband, Officer Mike Honey with the Miami Tribal Police, to accept the dog although she said it wasn't his first inclination.

"He backed me 100 percent. He's very open minded," she said." We do everything together. We eat, sleep and train him together."

Thor takes a lot of time with training twice a week. Even after he's completely certified, maintenance training will continue once a week.

Honey explained that training in the United States is a lot less rough than that done overseas.

She said dogs who are good for training need to have a "massive ball drive" or desire to retrieve and a strong sense of smell.

Additionally, she admitted, it's not always easy for a female to enter law enforcement.
"Thor is a tool for me to get my foot in the door," she said.

According to Honey, she's had a lot of positive reactions to herself and Thor.

"Everybody was shocked at first, but response has been good," she said.

"It shows that we're trying to move forward but perhaps have aways to go."

According to Honey, the sheriff's department has a contract with NOCA to perform searches for drugs.

She said that the proceeds will be contributed to a "bail out" system which would electronically open the doors of the deputy vehicle on command allowing Thor out to help with dangerous situations

Honey cannot imagine her life without Thor but remembers that she was taught, "dogs are expendable, officers are not."

She considers her attachment to Thor to be good because it helps them to read each other better but it also makes his eventual loss even harder to bear.

"We haven't had the chance to save any lives yet," Honey said. "Every handler wants a big find, but to save one life will make it all worthwhile."