VALPARAISO — The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport welcomed a new member to their team, a 13-month-old Dutch Shepherd Malamute mix, earlier this month, said Captain Michael Howell, airport security unit commander.
Skye, the newest addition, and her handler, Brian Beyhl, detect and prevent explosives as part of the airport security unit. The idea of adding a new K9 to the team began in April.
"We're here to safeguard our community and to look out over our citizens," said Howell. "We have a lot of military personnel that fly in and out of this base and they protect us abroad so we need to do our part to protect them and their families when they’re here in our communities."
Beyhl, who has been with the Sheriff's Office for 15 years, said he has been working toward this since he started. Beyhl said he knew he wanted to work with the K9 unit since he was little when he saw a K9 demonstration.
Before becoming part of the K9 unit himself, he would volunteer his weekends to be around the unit and watch what they did. He was then selected for the role.
"He is Skye's father," Howell said.
Beyhl said his job has exponentially changed since he began working with Skye. There is a lot of consistent training that is involved in the job. They train together once a week because they have to click. Howell said they need to communicate and know what the other is thinking to do their job proficiently.
"I tell everyone that that leash is like a nerve between the dog and the handler, and you know they're one team," Howell said. "They work together."
When Skye isn't working, she has moved into the Beyhl house where she even has her own room,
"It's just a good friend to have with every day," said Beyhl.
But, Beyhl said while she is "very pretty and very friendly" and even fluffy, she is a working dog and he asks that no one pet her.