A Kansas City police dog is the co-grand marshal of Kansas City’s 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade next week.

Soty, an eight-year-old German Shepard, and his partner, Officer David Magruder, will join Kansas City Fire Captain Louis Martin in leading the parade, which attracts thousands of participants and spectators each year.

Speaking to the Irish Voice on Monday, Magruder said he and Soty, who has been his partner for more than six years, are honored and elated to lead such a prestigious parade through midtown.

Although “not really Irish,” Magruder, who claims Scottish heritage, said he and Soty make a great team and were chosen to share the lead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade for all the great work they have done during the past few years together.  Soty lives with Magruder, his wife and three children.

“Soty is a part of the family. He comes home with me after work every day and the kids just love him and he loves them. He would allow the kids to take a steak out of his mouth,” he laughs.  “We are all very close to him.”

Magruder, who has been a police officer for 23 years, 13 of those with the Kansas City Police Department, said that Soty has, on more than one occasion, saved his life.

In 2004, during an altercation with a man who refused to pay his cab fare, Magruder said that his canine partner “did save my life.”

“We stopped a guy for not paying his cab fare and he didn’t like it too well,” remembers Magruder. “We got into a big knock down, drag out fight. Soty came out of the car, bit him and held him down to the ground until other officers came along and helped me handcuff him.”

This wasn’t the first time Soty was the hero. In the summer of 2007, a perpetrator shot a police officer. Soty tracked him down and bit him.

Soty found the criminal hiding in a garage underneath a car. Magruder and his colleagues managed to drag the shooter out from the garage and arrest him. This famous capture was featured on the popular reality show Cops.

“He is probably one of the most well known dogs around here,” said Magruder proudly. “He gets a whole lot of media attention.”

Magruder said if it weren’t for Soty, a lot more criminals and lawbreakers would still be on the streets.

“It’s amazing what he can do. We would never have found half the people we did if it wasn’t Soty’s sense of smell and hearing,” said Magruder.

The co-grand marshals are also used to winning. Soty, who is a trained bomb detection dog, won first place in a bomb competition recently and the German Shepard Club of Kansas City gave the partners Team of the Year in 2008.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff together,” said Magruder.

Soty and his human partner will travel the parade route in style. They will ride up front in a convertible with the fire captain.

“Being the co-grand Marshals is a huge honor for us,” said Magruder. “I didn’t realize what such a big deal St. Patrick is to Irish Catholics cause I’m not Catholic. It’s amazing and a great feeling.”  

As they lead the parade Magruder and Soty will not only have thousands of spectators cheering them on, they will have hundreds of their own colleagues who will be on duty that day giving them the thumbs up.

“I’ve worked the parade for many years, usually blocking traffic and making sure everyone had a good old Irish time,” said the officer.

Magruder, who will be dressed in an official capacity, said that he is looking for something green to don Soty in to make him an Irish canine for the day.