A man and his dog: Morrison County deputy excited to work with new K-9 partner

15 Jul 2021

Government, Community, News

When Morrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Scherping goes home at the end of his shift, his partner goes with him.

He goes right back to work with him the next night, too.

That new partner is a 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd, a K-9 officer named Bane. He is the newest member of the force at the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office, having just gone out for his first shift with Scherping, July 2.

“We haven’t had a lot of work this last weekend,” Scherping said, sitting in a conference room at the Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday evening. “Thankfully, it was a pretty mellow Fourth of July weekend for the most part; nothing crazy, major going on. So we’re blessed in that aspect of it.”

Still, he’s confident Bane will be an asset to the team right away. The pair recently completed a 13-week, intensive training course at McDonough K-9 in Anoka.

Scherping said Bane — who the Sheriff’s Office purchased from McDonough K-9 Owner Mark McDonough — was a quick study. He came to the United States from a breeder in the Czech Republic, and was “pretty green” when Scherping first met him. It didn’t take long, however, before he was getting the hang of his new job.

“He picked up on stuff very, very quick,” Scherping said. “He’s a very smart dog; very intelligent. I didn’t have a lot of frustrations with trying to get him to do things that I wanted him to do. I was blessed in that aspect that, you know, he wasn’t super hard-headed with me. You’ll have dogs that know what you want them to do and they’re, like, ‘I don’t really feel like doing that.’ We had a good bond from the get-go.”

Scherping has been a K-9 handler with the Sheriff’s Office for three years, and Bane is his second dog. The circumstances by which he was partnered up was much different the second time around, too.

Scherping started with the Sheriff’s Office as a dispatcher in October 2012, and became a part-time deputy by April 2013. From there, he worked his way up to full-time, and eventually started pursuing special assignments. He is also, as of January, a member of the Morrison County SWAT Team.

His first K-9 partner, Rocky, was reassigned to Scherping after his handler was forced to retire because of an injury he suffered in the field. Rocky’s first partner was Morrison County Deputy Dave Scherping — Austin’s father.

Scherping put in for the handler spot, and he got it. Sheriff Shawn Larsen asked him soon after if he could take over handler duties of his dad’s former partner.

He had always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a K-9 handler, having worked in decoying for other handlers since he was a 17-year-old student at Little Falls Community High School.

“That was one of my big goals before I even started as a cop,” Scherping said. “... I learned real early on that, you know, I wanted to be in law enforcement. So I went to school, did all that, and then once I got hired on, I knew one day I wanted to be a K-9 handler. I still, to this day, I’m very passionate about it. It takes a significant amount of effort that goes into the training and all that, but it’s so rewarding.”

He went through the training course with McDonough to ensure he and Rocky would be a good fit. It was determined they would be.

Starting with a K-9 who had already been working with another partner for a few years brought on its own set of challenges, however. Scherping said they had their struggles, at first. Through it all, McDonough was able to help them bring out the best in each other.

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