Fish and Wildlife First Ever "Bear" Dog Retires - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fish and Wildlife First Ever "Bear" Dog Retires

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KENNEWICK, WA- The first ever Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dog is hanging up his leash.

12-year-old Mishka is a big fluffy dog, who is surprisingly friendly, but is trained to scare off animals most of us hope we will never encounter.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife held a celebratory lunch Thursday to honor Mishka's retirement after more than a decade of service.

Bruce Richard, who handle's Mishka, described to NBC Right Now the bears, cougars and other large animals he is trained to scare away. He also told NBC Right Now about a walk, one little boy asked to take Mishka on that he will never forget.

"Then when he (the little boy) got Mishka, he started walking that dog. About two hours later, his mother came back to me, and said, "I gotta tell you, my little boy has had a really tough life, and I want to tell you something. That's the best 20 minutes I've ever seen him have". He had the best 20 minutes of his life with that silly dog," explained Mishka's handler Bruce Richards who is a Washington Department Fish and Wildlife Officer.

Richards has been with the service for 41 years, and is also putting away the uniform. Mishka is one of five dogs trained, they are all the same Karelian breed and are natural hunting dogs. Part of Mishka's service was with a biologist on the west side of the state, and after he passed away, Richards took over.

The "hard release" technique officers use to release an animal involves successfully scaring away the animal, so it will not come back. The dogs are trained to run after the animal once it is released, but not hurt it, just scare it away. This has saved many bears from being euthanized.