Reno is in the back seat, sitting in the air-conditioned car for one relaxing moment before beginning his shift.
Staying in the cruiser is both an excuse to get away from his fellow officers and a way to be ready when his partner climbs into the driver's seat.
"He'd rather be in there because he knows it's time to work," says his partner, Sgt. Eric Bowling.
Upon seeing Bowling, Reno's ears perk up. He is calm, but with one command he easily could morph into track, search or attack mode. That's Reno's job after all. The 3-year-old German shepherd is among the dogs, including Daro, Dutch, Elvis, Exo, Garik, Kaos, Lux, Ory, that make up the Lexington police department's canine unit. Another canine officer, Bosco, will be retiring soon.
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The canine officers are requested for "hot" calls, such as tracking suspects, apprehending criminals and searching for narcotics or cadavers.
They are good at their job. At the annual tune-up in June, all nine dogs earned certification from the United States Police Canine Association and finished high in regional field trials.
Reno and Bowling, for example, placed first in the vehicle search category and grabbed the overall top spot in narcotics detection.
The certification is practical; it tests the dogs on how they perform during calls they typically encounter.
"I got lucky," Bowling said looking at Reno in the back seat. "I would rather have him in there than any other partner."
Although Kentucky doesn't require police canine units to certify dogs, Lexington's division does it anyway.
The certification helps back up the dogs' work when criminal cases go to court, said Bowling, who oversees the canine unit.
Plus, it pushes handlers to make sure the dogs master and maintain their skills.
"We have to keep it up; it's to make sure they're performing like they're supposed to perform and they don't forget what they've been taught," he said.
That training is a sizeable part of each day for the dogs and handlers; the pairs spend at least two hours at the police kennel on Old Frankfort Pike, going over scenarios they might encounter that night.
Six officers regularly work the night shift during the week, and two work first shift although they all frequently clock extra hours with their dogs.
"They spend more time here than they do with their own families because it's just constant upkeep and training," Bowling said.
The canine unit's dogs range in age from 2 to 7, which is fairly young, he said. Most dogs retire when they're 8. When they retire, the dogs typically go home with the officers.
Every dog has a unique personality; Ory is high-strung while Reno is low-key. Sometimes they act in a pack, while some would rather steal the show.
When they're working, however, the aggressive, game-faced demeanor is obvious, Bowling said.
That's exactly what the sergeant of 18 years is looking for in a canine.
"They're social dogs that can be playful and be around family, but when they need to, they can do police work," he said.
After a few canines retired, three dogs were purchased from overseas last year. The unit has a vendor in Indiana that chooses its dogs.
Most of the dogs come from Germany, and they all know German. Part of the officers' training is learning commands in German.
"It really means nothing; it's all about voice inflection, using real staccato, short sounds," said Henry Hicks, who has been with the unit for 12 years. "That's what the dogs are used to hearing because they grow up hearing that."
The dogs complete about 16 weeks of basic training before patrolling the streets, and it will be two or three years before they no longer are considered rookies.
"That's when we consider them automatic and we can cut back some of the maintenance training," he said.
Ory and officer Patrick Murray joined the canine unit in November.
For Murray, the son of a former canine unit officer, the chance to work with the unit was the reason he became a police officer. He spent several years as a regular patrol officer while waiting for a rare opportunity to interview for the canine unit.
"When the spot finally opened, I was sweating bullets," Murray said. He studied for weeks, and went through an extensive interview process and a physical fitness test before being selected.
"When you start to see your dog getting the hang of everything and he does something you like, there's nothing like it," said Murray.
The unit completes most of its training in a large grass field near the kennel. For one exercise, an officer wears a protective sleeve on his arm, and another releases the dog to run and attack.
Although it's a simulation, it's based on real situations where dogs need to know when to bite and when to hold back.
"If it's dangerous enough that we don't want the officer to get hands-on with the individual, we release the dog and apprehend by biting them," said Bowling.
They also simulate vehicle and building searches, run obstacle courses, and practice speed and agility.
One thing officers don't need to teach their dogs is how to heighten their sense of smell. It's intuitive for the dogs, whose noses are 40 to 400 times more sensitive to smell than a human's, according to Bowling.
Humans shed thousands of skin cells every day, and they leave a path that can be followed only by a special nose.
"They can actually smell the fear scent that someone might be putting off," said Bowling.
He said his dogs can sense the slightest change in movement or odor as a person runs away, and they can detect exactly what room a person is in upon entering a building.
"I don't know how they do it, but I'm sure glad they can," said Bowling.
It's that feature that perhaps makes a human and dog a perfect match for police work, Bowling says.
"It definitely gives us a little bit of edge."
In addition to minor veterinary expenses and about $5,000 a year for food, Bowling says the largest expense is purchasing the dog, each of which costs about $7,500.
The canines pay for themselves within a few months on the street, he said.
As they track or search for drugs, the dogs often find thousands of dollars left behind by suspects; the money automatically goes into city or police funds.
"They're just a great asset, not only to the police department but to the citizens in our community," said Bowling.
Meanwhile, Murray shouted a German word to Ory, commanding him to climb swiftly under a wire fence. When his dog performs it perfectly, his stern expression quickly turns to one of pride, showing exactly why he got into the business.
"I just love that you work with them and you build such a bond," Murray said as he searched his pocket for an orange plastic ball to toss to Ory.
"It's all about partnership; they take of you and you take care of them."