When Halifax Animal Control Game Warden Todd Moser first found Riley, he knew there was something special about him.

Turns out, the 14-month-old German shepherd is the perfect candidate to become a K9 for the Virginia State Police narcotics division.

“He has a good personality and has such as good hunt drive,” said Moser.

He originally found Riley the week of July 8 after a woman in Alton called to report an unknown dog at her house wearing a collar.

When Moser arrived to pick him up, Riley was “happy as he could be.”

Because he was wearing a collar, the pound had to keep him for at least 12 days, but no family ever came to claim him.

In the meantime, Angel Conner evaluated him and told Moser she thought he would be a good candidate for the K9 Academy, so Moser decided to work with him to see what he was capable of doing.

Since Moser previously had 13 years of experience as a K9 handler with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and South Boston Police Department, he noticed right away Riley was a special dog.

He took to obedience very quickly, and was very interested in the toys Moser uses to test the dogs.

“He was easy to be trained,” said Moser, who contacted an individual with the Virginia State Police headquarters in Richmond.

That person with the narcotics division visited Riley on July 18 to work with him and agreed to make arrangements to accept him into the K9 Academy.

Last week, Moser took him to the academy where he will start 13 weeks of training in September as a “green dog” with a “green handler.”

He’s “green” because he’s never worked in narcotics before, and he will be placed with a new trooper, said Moser.

The trooper will then be trained to train the dog.

“They teach you how to train the dog, so that way if they ever have a bad day, you know how to build them back up,” said Moser.

Finding a candidate for law enforcement is rare in Moser’s line of animal control work, because it’s rare he finds a German Shepherd or a Belgium Shepherd.

He said state police used to want labs, golden retrievers or bird dogs.

“They have to have that trait to want to hunt. It’s a big game to find the item and get their toy. The K9 has a job to do just like the K9 handler,” said Moser.

Close to a decade ago, Moser said he found a shepherd who almost became a patrol dog, but it didn’t work out. And then came Riley.

Now Riley is “part of an elite team,” said Moser.

Every four years, the new K9 dog and his handler will have to return for re-certification.

“They are one of the most unnoticed heroes,” he concluded.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com