Mattis is one of five recipients of the 2021 AKC Awards for Canine Excellence, winning the Uniformed Service K-9 category. This category recognizes certified therapy dogs working in hospitals, schools, disaster sites, war zones, and anywhere the affection of a good dog can bring comfort.
Mattis and Staff Sgt. Mark Tappan ticks all the boxes when it comes to successful police work.
For example, the 8-year-old German Shepherd has over $ 3 million in drug seizures, 20 successful leads, and over 200 arrests during his career in the Alpharetta, Georgia Police Department. (Alpharetta is a city of 67,213 people (2019 estimate) and 42 km north of downtown Atlanta.)
While Tappan beams when these numbers are cited, his pride is even higher when he cites Mattis’ social media platforms and his interaction with the townspeople.
“He’s the face of law enforcement here,” Tappan smiles, “and has built a bridge between the public and the department. If you have a dog, people who don’t usually approach you will. know more about Mattis and my relationship with him.
The difficult climate of hot and cold public emotions is very varied. “Dealing with people is both difficult and can be very opportunistic,” he adds. “We can change a life by our response, whether our actions are compassionate or jaded. In these difficult and unpredictable situations, Mattis is at his best, helping to bring calm. “
As a result, both were named the recipients of the 2021 AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence in the Uniformed Service K-9 category.
Courage and intelligence
Yes, there is a story behind the name of this GSD.
He was Caymen, 2, when he was selected by Tappan in 2015. “It was too phonetically close to my son Cayden’s name. Being a former Marine, I thought the name Mattis after retired General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis seemed to fit well. He is known to be incredibly intelligent, highly respected, and a fierce warrior. Mattis, a four-star general, was also a former Secretary of Defense.
From the start, Tappan faced a wide range of dynamics with Mattis. “His driving was incredible. The way he wanted to hunt and hunt a toy was his singular focus when I tested him. He was persistent in his behavior and had the ability to solve problems that other dogs did not have, whether using his brute force or his wit.
But his enthusiasm and enthusiasm for his work comes at a price. He was injured in 2016 after jumping over a 30-foot retention wall as he pursued two suspects who attempted to flee from a traffic stop. The incident later earned him a Purple Heart Medal from the Police Department for his bravery. “I thought the wall was only 10 feet high and when I saw my best friend injured on the ground, I couldn’t forgive myself.”
Mattis was rushed to a nearby veterinary hospital for emergency surgery for a lacerated liver and major internal bleeding. The two suspects were later arrested and found in possession of a backpack full of cell phones, credit cards and identification documents.
Then there was the time with his swift and fearless actions, he saved a suspect who was attempting to “commit suicide by cop”. It was quickly revealed afterwards that the individual did not have a weapon.
On another occasion, he ran off leash with Tappan in a train station parking lot chasing an armed car thief, pulling him down in the presence of passers-by. This followed a vehicle chase and an accident.
Make the difference
While Mattis’ exploits at work have garnered praise and his public demonstrations have garnered admiration, he has raised over $ 200,000 for charitable causes.
“For me, social media is about making an impact, making a difference,” says Tappan. “Cure Childhood Cancer has been our goal. This is one of those organizations where you just can’t say no to help.
Coins4CURE was the main goal of the pair M (Mark) and M (Mattis). “We challenged K9 units nationwide to also create their own Coins4Cure fundraising campaigns. We also donated 50 percent of our sales of popular Mattis merchandise to CURE.
“These children fight for their lives every day and for years in some cases. These are the real heroes. And they need hope every day to continue this fight.
“Their families are fighting with them in this battle of life. To be a part of something like that is special, and to play a very small role like we do, it means a lot to us.
Mattis’ celebrity status extends far beyond Alpharetta. The couple were featured on A&E’s “America’s Top Dog” and made appearances on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Good Morning America,” “Fox & Friends,“ Live PD ”and“ True Crime. ”Mattis also did his acting debut in the HBO series, “Watchmen”.
In addition, Mattis has 237,000 followers on Instagram and 4.3 million on TikTok.
Last March, the team was disbanded when Mattis retired in a public ceremony.
“I miss him every day when I’m getting ready for work,” notes Tappan. “He’s the only dog of the three we have at home that comes down with me and stands next to his harness in the hopes that I put him on top of him. As I step out he rests his head on my thigh. left for one last pet and is always by the door when I get home.I admit it left a void in my life.
“During the day I miss her head on my right shoulder because I would scratch her. I walk past places and think it would be a great place to play or train.
The decision to remove Mattis came from Tappan, who noticed his partner was limping in the right back leg. He was diagnosed with gastrocenemic fibrosis, lameness of the hind limbs. Affected dogs usually suffer from a lifelong disability because the fibrosis and contracture of the thigh muscles are not reversible with treatment.
To maintain Mattis’ mental and physical capacities, Tappan stimulates him with scent games. One of them is “find the food”, where his dinner is hidden and he is forced to use his nose to find it.
As Mattis makes the transition from K9 job to pet, maintaining his sharpness and exercise falls on others – Tappan’s wife, Tamara, and their three children, Makenna, 17; Cayden, 15; and Harper, 7.
“They were great,” Tappan concludes. “It’s all about the family and each of them recognizes the need to keep Mattis happy and energized. He certainly deserved that right, didn’t he?