An “awesome, valuable asset” has joined the Middletown Division of Fire, said firefighter Chris Klug.
The department recently was given a 7-month-old Labrador retriever mix from the Animal Friends Humane Society in Butler County, and the dog will be trained to detect numerous accelerates, said Fire Chief Paul Lolli.
And the dog was named Scottie, in memory of Scott D. Bruggeman, 45, a retired Middletown firefighter and U.S. Marine who died in January after battling heart disease for almost two years.
Bruggeman’s parents, Dave and Ginger Bruggeman, met the canine during a visit to fire headquarters and Scottie immediately jumped in Ginger’s lap.
“It was like he knew he was named after Scott,” said Klug, Scottie’s handler.
Ginger Bruggeman said the entire family is “thrilled to death” the Middletown firefighters thought enough of her son to name the dog is his honor. She said the dog also has helped the family and firefighters through the grieving process.
“He’s a very special dog to the guys,” she said. “The guys went through everything with us.”
Scottie is taking obedience classes, and probably in three months, will begin eight weeks of training, led by Sgt. Andy Warrick, who trains canines for the Middletown Division of Police Department. Klug said he hopes Scottie has been certified and joins the city’s arson investigation team before the end of the year.
Klug said the cost to the city will be minimal because Scottie was donated and he’s being trained by city employees.
Once Scottie’s certified, Lolli said, Middletown will make the dog available to other fire departments in the county. The closest dog certified to detect arson fires is located in Columbus, he said.
Lolli joked that Scottie struggled following commands early in his career.
“Just like Scott,” he said of the fallen firefighter and his nephew.
When about 25 students in the city’s Safety Town program visited fire headquarters, they were greeted by Scottie, Klug said. He was well behaved and enjoyed the attention.
Scottie lives with Klug and goes to the fire department every third day. Klug said he’s also being trained how to work with Scottie.
“I’m learning as much as the dog,” he said. “It’s going to be great. He’s another crew member, another guy.”
Klug called Scottie “a super smart dog” who eventually will help the department determine cause of fires, especially if they’re intentionally set.
“He will point us in the right direction,” said Klug, 33, an eight-year veteran. “It will be like, ‘This is arson.’ You are not going to beat the dog’s nose.”
Or his name.
“Every day we are saying his name and we don’t forget where the name came from,” he said.
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