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Maybe this was destined to happen. Though it probably didn’t feel like it when Officer Paul Glaser wasn’t chosen to join the Huntsville Police Department (HPD) K-9 unit when he first applied. Or the next time. Or the next. Or … well …  you get the picture.

He grew up in a home that, from his earliest memories, housed police dogs. Family vacations were spent going to police dog shows and competitions with his father, Bobby, who was with the K-9 Corps in Baton Rouge.

In 2004, Bobby came to Huntsville for a competition and was enamored with the city. When his son graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University, Bobby recommended that Paul apply to HPD.

Finally on the K-9 unit for nearly three years, having joined the force in 2008, Glaser – “Hoss” to his friends, Robert Paul Glaser on his birth certificate – is still going to dog competitions. This time, representing his adopted hometown.

Glaser and his dog Rekon – pronounced “reckon” – won top honors recently at the annual U.S. Police Canine Association Region 22 Certification Trials in Chattanooga. There were 28 teams representing 11 different law enforcement agencies competing.

We’re a lot alike. He’s a bigger Malinois and I’m a bigger person. We mesh well.”

They won first place in the Patrol Dog Certification, then earned certification in Narcotics. They won the “Dual Purpose Dog” cup, for the best combined score from two categories, with an 869.67 out of a possible 900 points.

The four-day event begins with an obedience competition – you don’t pass it, you pack up and go home – followed by agility tests. Then they attempt certification in article and suspect searches. That’s followed by criminal apprehension, with and without gunfire, and indoor and outdoor narcotics searches.

The win carried on not only a family tradition but also a department tradition. The Dual Purpose Cup is sprinkled with silver plates engraved with names of previous winners from HPD.

With competition ingrained in his DNA, Glaser admits it was a little more fun going as a spectator than as a participant. “The stress level is higher,” he says.

Many police dogs can be downright frightening. Sort of the point, right?

Rekon, a Belgian Malinois, just exudes happy. His tongue seems permanently wagging and he has a friendly face. He’s not yet three, and there’s still some eager, energetic puppy in him. You just want to play catch with him and wallow around the floor.

Malinois are bred as working dogs, according to Glaser.

“They can be wound up tight. It’s go, go, go, go, go. Non-stop,” Glaser says. “Mine is a little more laid-back. We’re a lot alike. He’s a bigger Malinois and I’m a bigger person. We mesh well.”

Glaser and his wife Haley have a 16-month daughter, Kandice, and three dogs aside from Rekon. There is Cane, a German shepherd that has retired from HPD K9 service; Agape, a German shepherd whose names means “love” and was a wedding gift; and Bingo, a Dutch shepherd. Each has vastly different personalities.

The first police dog to which Glaser was exposed was the one his father bought for $35 nearly 30 years ago, when the dog wasn’t deemed suitable for military service.

The dog’s name: Reject.

Reject would go on to finish seventh in a national competition, and be the basis for lessons the elder Glaser constantly shared with other officers about perseverance, about not giving up even when somebody may have rejected you.

That’s something to which Paul Glaser would cling when his application to join HPD’s K-9 unit came back “thanks, but no thanks” so often during his first six years on the force.

To that end, he fishes into the pocket of his uniform shirt and pulls out one of baseball-style cards the K-9 officers each have for PR purposes, with a photo of the officer and his dog. On the back, there is a personal message.

“If you try and don’t succeed, always try one more time. Never give up!”