PORTLAND, Maine — When Mako sinks his teeth into a trainer’s protected arm, he won’t let go until his partner, Portland police Officer Zack Finley, gives him the command.
Mako, a 15-month-old German shepherd born in Slovakia, showed off his abilities Friday afternoon in front of members of the Rotary Club of Portland, whose donation of $6,600 paid for the addition of the dog to the Portland Police Department’s K-9 unit.
Finley, a six-year veteran of the police force, is largely responsible for training Mako, who lives with Finley and his wife in Scarborough.
“He’s my partner and he’s part of my family,” Finley said. “I can flip a switch and turn him on and then off.”
Mako spent much of the reception standing by Finley’s side or playing with his pacifier, a tennis-ball-sized rubber ball. But with the crack of a whip wielded by former Portland K-9 officer Chris Coyne, who was simulating a threat to Finley, Mako strained at his leash, letting out a series of high-pitched barks.
And after issuing the verbal warning he would use in a real-life confrontation, Finley released Mako, who dashed across the room and dug into the protective sleeve Coyne wore on his arm.
Finley also will train Mako in narcotics detection after his general certification this fall.
There are five K-9 teams in Portland, and Mako and Finley will make the sixth. Two teams are trained in locating missing persons and narcotics, while three others work to detect explosives, doing much of their duty at the Portland International Jetport.
Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck joined Finley to thank the Rotary Club for the donation, which paid in full the price of acquiring Mako from a source in Connecticut.
“To find that [the donation] was for a full $6,600, which fully pays for Mako, was absolutely incredible,” Sauschuck said. “Mako’s a good boy.”