Over 110 grams of mostly Colorado’s potent marijuana lies in one of the nearby boxes and Bella can’t wait to find it.
Newton Police Department Cpl. Tony Hawpe sternly gives the command “find” and the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois ferrets it out. Pragmatically, she goes to the first box, then the next, until locating the Black & Decker box with the drugs.
The Holland-born police-breed dog then nudges the box with her nose, lies down beside the box and anxiously waits for Tony to reveal a durable chew toy from behind his bullet-proof vest.
“This is what she loves,” Tony said while he lifted 60-pound Bella up by the chew toy.
Now it’s Baby Girl’s turn.
Cued with a squeaker, the 9-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, wearing a pink collar with rhinestones, starts sniffing the bottom of the overturned bowls until she picks up the scent of her tattered stuffed animal.
Then, she lets out a yelp. Hawpe overturns the bowl, reveals the toy and starts a more gentle tug-of-war with the 2.5-pound dog.
Hawpe, of Newton, said he’s a dog lover and knew his calling when a dog bit down on the bite suit he was wearing.
“I am partial to anything that is partial to me, I guess,” Tony said with a laugh.
In 2002, roughly nine years after joining the Newton department, Tony got his chance with a Belgian Malinois named Carlo. About 18 months into the job, the four-legged partner developed a twisted stomach and died.
Shortly after Carlo passed, Tony began training with another Belgian Malinois named Carla. Fate had them riding side-by-side, at times while Tony sang to her, for the next 12 years until she was retired.
Now Carla stays at home, relaxing and eating hamburgers along with other foods an active police dog can’t eat.
Besides Carla, there is also Baby Girl and her mother, Matty, and of course, the newest addition, Bella.
Tony said he likes the high work ethic of Belgian Malinois dogs. And Bella has already proven to be his favorite police dog yet, he said.
Her energy, or ADHD as Tony calls it, is apparent as the dog watches her handler’s every move, sometimes whining and waiting for a signal.
Tony said Bella quickly switches gears from a police officer to a loveable dog, making her perfect for performances in front of Newton students.
The corporal, who turned down a sergeant promotion to continue working with dogs, usually takes Bella and Baby Girl for demonstrations in front of younger students. And it usually happens on his day off.
“I like doing the dog stuff,” he said. “It doesn't matter if it’s my day off. It’s so entertaining.”
Tony said Baby Girl’s trick is similar to Bella’s in that Bella is searching for her toy, which she has been trained to associate with the smells of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Baby Girl first learned the trick in the kitchen at home using Solo cups, Tony said, who knew the trick might work because of the Yorkie’s drive to find her “baby,” which is now a beat up stuffed animal of a Santa dog without a squeaker.
The noise of the squeaker now serves in place of the cue: “Where’s your baby?”
It’s only by chance Baby Girl is still part of the family. She was the runt of the litter that Tony and his wife, Robyn, were selling. Robyn accidentally stepped on Baby Girl, and the dog went lifeless.
Tony was able to breathe life back into the Yorkie’s lungs, and she sprang back, yelping, the Hawpes said. Miraculously, a veterinarian told them Baby Girl would be fine.
“No getting rid of her after that,” Tony said.
Robyn shares Tony’s love for dogs and doesn’t think he could have a better partner.
“I feel safer that he has (Bella),” Robyn said.
Tony, 46, said he could retire in six years but plans to stay on until Bella is ready to call it quits. Then, the dog, whose parents and grandparents served as police dogs, will enjoy burgers and all the other kinds of salivating treats.
“I don’t think I could bear to part with my dog,” Tony said. “I don't think it would be good for me or her.”