By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 24, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Caleb Lawrence is working hard to one day become a K9 deputy. He trains his own German Shepard to obey every command.
Oh, and Caleb still hasn't finished the second grade.
Caleb lives near Pelham but goes to church with a Leon County K9 deputy. They first talked just last week and, on Friday, they headed to the training grounds for the first time.
"Anywhere he goes, she's going to go with him," said Amanda Barnes, Caleb's mom. "They're buds."
Amanda says Lady joined the family five years ago. She had been badly injured, dragged behind a truck.
She says she worked at the vet, fell in love, and took a chance as Lady was set to be put down.
"I couldn't let that happen," she said. "And, we added a dog to our family and she just claimed Caleb from the get go."
Fast forward to last year, an epiphany! Caleb learned that sometimes cops work with dogs.
"I thought it'd be pretty cool to be with a little bit of your family while you're at work," Caleb said.
For Christmas, Caleb wanted supplies to create his own course. He also got a personalized tactical vest, with plenty of pockets for treats.
Friday, he showed off Lady's skills to a new friend.
"I love dogs. I love animals," said K9 Deputy Jesse Matthews. "It's a dream of mine I always wanted to do as a child."
Sgt. Matthews has been a handler for two years.
On Lady, he had to say, "Great dog. Beautiful, very observant."
The two worked together to give Lady a chance to test actual training obstacles.
Matthews was inspired by Caleb.
"I see a lot of myself in Caleb," he said. "He's better than I was at that age. He's already light years ahead. He's doing excellent."
The expert knows what it takes to succeed in the field, as Matthews says, "Bond is everything, and they have that bond. They do everything together."
After the run through, Caleb graded Lady's performance positively. But, when it came to the ladder crawl, "We still need to practice some of that."
Caleb says he can't wait until he can ride along with a K9 deputy; he just has to wait until he's 18.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Matthews and his K9, Bane, will be making their debut on America's Top Dog in the weeks to come.