In my youth, I owned a number of less than dependable vehicles, two of which left me stranded on roads across the country. Thankfully, I survived those incidents in the years, long before having a personal cell phone was even a thought.

One terrifying adventure when my car overheated, air conditioning compressor froze, and radiator blew, stranded me on the side of the highway, not far from Kimball. This was at the beginning of what was supposed to be a cross-country trip to Montana.

I was scared, hot, and completely at a loss as to what to do next. Suddenly, I wasn't alone anymore. A South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper was at my side, comforting me, calling a tow truck, and assuring me all would be fine. He directed me to a cool place where I could get an icy soda, and call family and friends to let them know what had happened.

Eventually, all did end well, but it was that trooper's genuine kindness and concern that made all the difference, and I will never forget it. I carried his card with me for easily a decade after that.

All Highway Patrol Officers have difficult jobs. They are constantly walking a line between protecting and serving, enforcing the law, and trying to preserve their own safety.

Some of them have partners, who bark, drool and shed year-round! Their excuse is that they are highly-trained Police Service Dogs (PSDs), on duty with their handlers, patrolling the highways and byways of our state.

Anyone who knows me, knows of my great love of German Shepherds. So when I came across photos of some of the newest canine Highway Patrol officers, I felt the need to share and with the permission of our great South Dakota Highway patrol, I am being allowed to.

These are the newest members (or recently certified in new duties) of the Highway Patrol Police Service Dog Unit!!!

From left to right: PSD Ryker, PSD Rex, and PSD Luna

Courtesy South Dakota Highway Patrol

PSD Ryker is a Belgian Malinois that was born on December 11th, 2013. He started with the SD Highway Patrol on February 3rd, 2014 and was previously handled by Trooper Denver Kvistad. On Thursday, November 7, PSD Ryker was certified as a Narcotic Detection Canine, with his new handler Trooper Shane Johnson. He and Trooper Johnson will be stationed in the northeastern part of the state and will be patrolling those roadways.

PSD Rex is a Belgian Malinois that was born on November 29th, 2016. PSD Rex started with the patrol on September 9th, 2019 and just got through his first certification this last Thursday as a Narcotic Detection Canine. He and his handler, Trooper Cody Jansen, are stationed in Vermillion and will be patrolling the roadways in Sioux Falls and in the eastern part of the state.

PSD Rex and Trooper Jansen are now going through patrol dog camp where they will learn how to track and apprehend suspects. (Sometimes new dogs are a little frisky…which is why Trooper Jansen is not wearing his campaign hat in the picture).

PSD Luna is a Dutch Shepherd that was born on November 24th, 2018 and was donated to the South Dakota Highway Patrol by Trooper Eric Peterson and his family. PSD Luna started with the patrol on August 25th, 2019 and just got through her first certification this last Thursday (November 7) as a Narcotic Detection Canine. She and Trooper Austin Schmitz are stationed in Pierre and will be patrolling the roadways in the central part of the state


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