Some meanings for the given name of Ayla include “oak tree” and “halo.”
This name is especially fitting for the Waterloo Police Department’s longtime police dog, who has served as a solid companion on the force with angelic grace for more than a decade.
Ayla is retiring at the end of this month. She is currently the longest serving police dog in the entire metro east.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience and I enjoyed every minute of it,” said WPD officer Trin Daws, who has served as Ayla’s handler all these years. “I don’t know how I’m going to adjust to having a quiet squad car again after 11 years.”
Ayla, a German shepherd, was born March 12, 2005, in Ingolstadt, Germany. She started training in January 2007 at Rudy Drexler’s School For Dogs in Elkhart, Ind. Daws met her at the school and received his training so that the two could become WPD’s K-9 unit.
“When I got her she was 98 percent trained,” Daws said. “I’m the one who had to be trained to work with her.”
The police department purchased Ayla through a fundraising campaign organized by former police chief Joe Brauer. The community donated the necessary funds in a short amount of time for the new K-9 unit to come together.
And the support did not stop there.
“I’m very thankful for all of the community support, including dog grooming services, dog food supplies, you name it,” Daws said. “Even at Christmastime, a lot of people brought her gifts. One woman every year for Christmas bought her a package of tennis balls, wrapped it, brought it in for her, and let her tear it apart. The community has really been great.”
Ayla was certified to be a WPD officer on Feb. 9, 2007, and made her first drug arrest with Daws several hours later.
Daws estimates that Ayla took part in up to 75 drug busts during her career. These arrests also resulted in the seizure of vehicles — including a Porsche — and thousands of dollars in cash.
Ayla also conducted many successful suspect trackings over the years, Daws said. In March 2016, she located three robbery suspects from Missouri who fled on foot following a police pursuit of their vehicle that ended in Columbia.
Ayla received a medal from the German Shepherd Dog Club in 2009 for another successful tracking of a suspect on a farm property south of Waterloo.
Daws said the suspect told police afterward that he might as well give up hiding, because he knew Ayla was not going to give up looking for him.
“The tracking and drug (detection) were definitely her strengths,” Daws said.
Ayla was also out and about in the community, conducting K-9 demonstrations and standing at the ready during the county fairs and homecomings.
“We probably did organized demonstrations for a minimum of 6,000 people. That’s not even including all the little ones — out at the fair, at homecomings, church picnics, things like that,” Daws said.
Daws said he thinks Ayla will adjust well to the home life.
“It’s going to be a tough adjustment for both of us, but it’s time for her to retire,” he said.
Trin’s wife, Cathy Daws, said she is ready for Ayla to start relaxing at home.
“I can see she’s ready, too. I can see she’s tired,” Cathy said. “It’s going to be hard; he’s going to miss her (on duty).”
The public is invited to attend a retirement party being held in Ayla’s honor next Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of Waterloo City Hall. Light refreshments will be served.
“It’s been great. She’s been a wonderful dog,” Trin said.
Waterloo Police Chief Mike Douglas praised Ayla and her handler for their service to the community.
“I’d like to thank Trin and Ayla for the years of dedicated service,” Douglas said. “Ayla had a great career and she served the Waterloo Police Department and the citizens of Waterloo well. Officer Daws and Ayla were a great team and she will be missed by the department.”