Texas Game Warden Scott Kirkpatrick loves his job, and especially that he gets to go to work every day with his K-9 partner Lola.
When Kirkpatrick first met Lola, she was a 6-week-old puppy. At the time, Kirkpatrick didn’t know that she would end up being his partner. Kirkpatrick was fostering her as part of a puppy program started by several K-9 officers in Texas, Maine and Colorado.
“When I was fostering her, Lola went everywhere with me to get her used to every kind of environment, from a rural pasture to a crowded Home Depot,” he said. “She quickly demonstrated that she had the drive and other characteristics that would make her a good K-9."
As Kirkpatrick pondered the pending retirement of his K-9 partner, Ray, he realized his next partner was right underfoot.
“I have to admit I’d grown kind of attached to Lola, and I really liked the way her training was progressing,” he said. “I had started with her on some tracking exercises, and she just took that up like crazy. She just loves to work and her drive and energy are very high. So, I threw a pitch at my captain to see if I could keep her."
Thanks to a Gear Up for Game Wardens K-9 fund, dollars were readily available to make the purchase, and Lola became an official member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s K-9 team.
Lola’s search and rescue training paid off for a frightened and lost little boy and his frantic family in mid-November 2022. Kirkpatrick got a call from Cedar Hill State Park, where a boy had been missing overnight. Kirkpatrick and Lola headed to the wooded area where he had last been seen, and Lola got to work.
“I saw her nose go down to the ground in a tracking behavior and she just took off,” said Kirkpatrick. “I just tried to keep up with her as best I could, running through the brush and ducking down to avoid branches along the way. And then l looked up and there she was, just sitting right over there beside him."
The little boy was safe and sound, and Lola had her first search and rescue mission under her collar.
“Of course, she got a treat after that successful rescue,” said Kirkpatrick.