Three years ago, the Whitfield County Sheriff's allowed Deputy Todd Thompson to become the county's first K9 handler in more than two decades.

"My Major had the utmost confidence in me, my Major and my Sheriff," said Deputy Thompson. "They said Todd we know you'll do great at this but you have a lot of pressure on you, son. They said you'll make or break what we're trying to do. So I did have a little bit of pressure on me so I had no choice but to make this succeed."

Thompson traveled to Alabama to pick up his new partner, 10-month old, Eddy. The German Shepherd hadn't yet learned to walk off leash, or how to obey simple commands.

"I would go to work and work an eight hour day and then I would come home every day for the first two years," said Thompson. "I would spend an hour, hour and a half, two hours on the weekend in my front yard teaching him all the skills he needed to excel in this."

Thompson and Eddy would travel to Chattanooga every Wednesday to train with CPD handlers on the city course.

"I told my wife I really want to be that guy one of these days that when I walk out onto the field, people get quiet, people might nudge somebody and say 'hey watch this guy', he said. "Well I found myself two years into down in Rome, as I walking onto the field to do some obedience I heard a man say, 'hey watch this guy right here'. And that gave me cold chills and of course we knocked it out of the park and I got overall top dog. "

Thompson and Eddy have won Overall Top Dog honors at Regionals in 2018. The crime-fighting duo earned another honor after finishing first in drug detection out of 30 dogs at the regional competition in Chattanooga in 2019. They have also competed on national stages in both Huntsville and Albany, New York.

"I was so hungry three years ago to be so good with this and now to get to see some of the accolades and the rewards and the trophies, he said. "It just let me know that hard work does pay off."