There is a new man at the Gila County Sheriff's Office in Payson -- Dennis Newman joined the force in early December.
Newman is not new to police work though. He retired from the Chandler Police Department after more than 20 years.
When he joined the GCSO he brought a special benefit: Rusty, a Belgian Malinois police dog, specially trained in explosives detection.
Rusty is only the second police dog to serve at the Payson office of the GCSO. The first was Dax, who was first assigned to John Finger, then to Craig Smith.
The Globe GCSO has two K-9 officers.
Rusty is also the second dog Newman has worked with, his predecessor was Rex, also a Belgian Malinois, a narcotics detection dog.
Rex took an early retirement and now lives at home with Newman and his wife.
"Working in the mountains was a goal I set for myself eight to 10 years ago," Newman said.
He and his family have vacationed a lot in the area, so he is familiar with the area.
Newman first came to Arizona as an 18-year-old in the Air Force, assigned to Williams Air Force Base where he was an aircraft mechanic.
Because the 47-year-old law enforcement officer was so young when he came to the state, he feels like this is where he grew up.
He has two grown daughters and one grandchild still living in Chandler.
Newman said he loves the work here, "There is absolutely no stress. However, there are a bunch of challenges. I'm on my own a lot. Trying to find a location with only a lot number. I'm used to squared off streets and plenty of signs."
When not on duty with Rusty, Newman said he enjoys woodworking, "I'm attempting furniture, but only have done knickknack stuff so far."
He also does sheet metal work and lots of outdoor stuff, especially camping.
"I can't leave the dogs with anyone else, so I have not been away from them in seven years. Fortunately my wife is a big supporter of me being a K-9 officer," Newman said.
About the dog
Rusty is only about 4 years old. Newman has been his only handler.
The dog came to Arizona from Holland, via Ellis Island. He was flown into Tucson and stayed there 10 days before Newman picked him up.
"He's been mine ever since," Newman said.
First, there was a bonding period to "establish the pecking order" and let the dog know who is the "alpha male."
"That doesn't take long with these dogs. They're real friendly and want to do things and get to work," Newman said.
Bonding with Rusty only took a week, he said.
Next they went to school. Newman has had both of his dogs trained in Arizona. With Rex, school was in-house at the Chandler P.D. because of the expertise and experience available. Rusty's schooling was at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Newman said.
He said he likes the Belgian Malinois for police work because they are athletic and agile and not as inbred as German shepherds.
The state has had quite a few narcotics dogs over the years, but prior to Sept. 11, 2001, there were only about 17 explosives-detection dogs.
Asked if Rusty has changed since the move to Payson, Newman said the most noticeable thing has been the way the has reacted to the climate.
"He never tires out. In the heat in the Valley, he lost his ambition pretty fast."
There have not been any explosives calls for Rusty and Newman yet, but the potential is there. "Because of all the mines in the area, I imagine we will see some activity," Newman said.
Name: Dennis Newman
Occupation: K-9 Officer
Employer: Gila County Sheriff's Office
Birthplace: Berea, Ky.
Family: Wife, two daughters and one grandchild.
Personal motto: Enjoy life, it only happens once.
Inspiration: My father.
Greatest feat: Getting out of the Valley.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Anything I can do at my own pace.
I don't want to brag but ... I set a goal and I met it when I came to Payson.
The person(s) in history I'd most like to meet are my grandfathers.
Luxury defined: Anything that backs up the national forest and has a 20-car garage.
Dream vacation spot: Here.
Why Payson? Mild summers, mild winters and it's central to practically everything in Arizona.