WOODSTOCK, MD. -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer's pet labrador Willie played the role of First Dog this month as he led the class in the Maryland State Police K-9 graduation exercises.

Willie, who finished first in his class, was named the state's honorary No. 1 Canine.

He took top honors in a group of dogs that successfully completed a basic course in obedience.

During his three-week instruction, Willie received special recognition for his achievements, especially in the area of official state mansion canine conduct.

During ceremonies, he demonstrated basic obedience techniques with Maryland State Police K-9 instructor Sgt. Don Murphy, who helped mansion-break the dog and prepare him for official public business.

Eight dogs and their handlers demonstrated techniques of the K-9 division.

Five will be assigned to various Maryland State Police facilities and three will be taking up assignments with the Westminster city police, Prince George's County police and Frederick County Sheriff's Department.

Five of the eight successfully completed a 14-week basic utility dog training course plus a special 10-week narcotics-explosive detection course.

There are 25 Maryland State Police K-9 teams assigned statewide, with 15 trained in narcotics detection and six assigned to detect explosives. The units are available around the clock.

First Sgt. Ben Cohey, commander of the K-9 division, said the need for canine service has increased dramatically in the past five years.

Canines and their handlers were responsible for 193 arrests last year.