Rocky, a 2 1/2 year old Belgian Malinois, was acquired by the City of Carlsbad Police Department K-9 program from Fon Jon Kennels in early 1987. Rocky was the department’s first Malinois and one of the first to be used for police work in San Diego County. Rocky’s first handler was Officer Richard Browning. During his time with Officer Browning, Rocky established himself as a hard worker with boundless energy. He was credited with numerous apprehensions including an armed subject who threw his gun down rather than take a bite from the pursuing dog.
When Officer Browning transferred to the Oceanside Police Department in 1989, Rocky was reassigned to Officer Bill Rowland. Browning and Rowland were best friends and neighbors so the transition was nearly seamless. Rocky continued to distinguish himself in the field where he was instrumental in making more than 30 arrests.
During his tenure, Rocky’s crime fighting exploits were well documented as it was often said at the time that everyone on the department had at least “one good Rocky story.” Among his best captures was the hot prowl burglar who was attempting to force open the victim’s bedroom door with a knife while they were on the phone with police dispatch. First to arrive and waiting for a cover unit, Officer Rowland saw the suspect step out of the living room door and sent Rocky rather than allow the suspect to re-enter the house. Rocky knocked the suspect down and held him while Rowland made the arrest.
Of course, all was not glory. There were lots of dirty jobs to do too—like the time he was searching for a suspect under an old home and stumbled part way into an unexpected open cesspool. It took 20 minutes of good scrubbing with Dr. Bronner’s soap to get rid of the smell. He took an unexpected tumble on another call but this time it was into a baptismal font while searching a church that had been burglarized. Needless to say that was a much easier clean up.
Rocky was tough and fearless in the field, but he also excelled at public contact events and visited every public elementary school in the city, as well as performing numerous service dog demonstrations and attending both private and civic events. It was not unusual for him to get thank you letters for weeks after a demonstration.
While he was a hard charger at work, at home Rocky was a gentle and protective member of both Browning’s and later Rowland’s families. He always seemed to know when it was time to work and when he could just relax. Rocky was retired in late 1992 and spent his later years with the Rowland family.