GSRNE’s Working Dog K9 Spotlight


Meet K9 Nikki




For many, this boy needs no introduction. His appearances on the Animal Planet “K9 to 5” show and his story in the K9 to 5 book make him GSRNE Working Dog Program’s most well known K9. Just like many famous individuals, however, he has a modest and troublesome beginning.

Left tied to a doorknob all day while his owner was at work, 8 week old Nikki had something to cry about…and he did, so much so that the owner’s landlord, hearing him cry day after day, agreed to assume care for him when the owner moved out of his apartment. The kind landlord had Nikki until he was 3 months old. As Nikki grew so did his energy level, his wild desire to play with toys and objects of all kinds and his boredom at not having something to do. The landlord thought his daughter and her husband might be better able to care for Nikki, so he went to live with them.

Home alone all day while his new owners worked and let loose without a fenced area for safe play, Nikki would wander the neighborhood and get into trouble. His owner’s meant well but knew nothing about obedience or how to handle a high energy, high drive dog. Almost a year after taking Nikki, the couple admitted that they had taken on more of a dog then they wanted, or knew how, to handle. Nikki was high maintenance. He required too much time and attention, was prone to barking and wandering and clearly needed structure and obedience. The couple reluctantly put him in a shelter.

GSRNE was able to take him into foster care and found a place for him where all his wild energy and drives would be coveted. Nikki went to work for the United States Coast Guard. Trained as a narcotics detection “K9”, he became that famous boy in books and on television. No longer the headache that nobody wanted Nikki had found his true calling.

Nikki’s ability to scent out drugs was so good that when his handler, Chief Rusty Merritt, retired from the Coast Guard he felt it only fair to find his partner a new job. He knew Nikki thrived on being a working dog and doing his job well. Nikki was still young and history had shown that a pet only lifestyle would not suite him. Nikki found another job and a great family life with his new partner- Sergeant Art Cunio of the Surf City Police Department in North Carolina. Nikki is the best drug dog the department-head has ever seen. He and Sergeant Cunio continue to find the drugs and keep their community safe.

Nikki’s rags-to-riches story was made possible by GSRNE volunteers and by donations to the working dog fund.

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