Remembering Our K9 Heroes Who Serve
Remembering Our K9 Heroes Who Serve
Hearing about someone who has died in the line of duty, whether a Police Officer or a member of our Nation’s military, evokes a feeling unlike any other. The occasion is solemn and touching – even inspiring. And as Americans, we feel both proud and humbled.
When such tragedy strikes, mourners often turn out en masse to pay their respects to the fallen hero and his or her family. In one such case, Jethro, a K9 Officer who died in the line of duty, had a funeral service like no other. With flags flying at half-mast throughout the state of Ohio, the Police memorial was attended by hundreds of people, while a procession 100-strong walked slowly past a photo of their fallen comrade. Although they came from various cities across the state, the 100 “mourners” had one thing in common – they were all Police Officers with their K9 “partners”.
Jethro was killed in the line of duty when he and his handler, Officer Ryan Davis, responded to a grocery store burglary. The German Shepherd was caught in the crossfire and died the next day. Officer Davis credits his K9 partner - his buddy - with saving his life that night.
In another case, out of Janesville, Wisconsin, a Police dog was recently honored for his service to the community. Over the course of his career, Karo sniffed drugs, tracked missing persons, chased suspects, and appeared at school and community events as the furry face of the Police Department. Although he didn’t die in the line of duty, the 7-year-old passed away shortly after he retired with a health condition -- spinal stenosis -- that was causing numbness in his legs. With his health rapidly deteriorating, the decision was made for Karo to be euthanized. The four-legged Officer passed away peacefully with his partner Officer Glen Hageman, and a bevy of fellow Police dogs and their handlers on hand at the Veterinary office to pay their final respects.
Then there’s Nicky, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, who lives in Las Vegas with his human partner, Sergeant Eric Kerns. The duo recently responded to a call, which resulted in a 12-hour standoff -- ending with the SWAT team initiating a K9 raid. But instead of giving up, the suspect attacked Nicky. In spite of multiple stab wounds, Nicky continued to do his job – taking down the suspect who was later taken into custody. But this story has a happy ending. As it turns out, Nicky was one lucky dog. After undergoing surgery, he recovered nicely and will be back on the job when he gets the A-OK. Although he’s never been one to seek out the limelight, Nicky’s story has been featured on “Friends of the Las Vegas Police K9s” Facebook page, garnering him thousands of followers and well-wishers!
Like these three canines, you’ll find a lot of herding dogs serving as, well, “K9s.” German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Beaucerons are among those commonly trained for this work. The reason? These dogs have the characteristics that are necessary for a successful K9 service dog – intelligence, loyalty, strength, aggression, and a keen sense of smell.
Ever since the Military, Police, and Fire Departments started working with dogs, the bond between these humans and their canines has become extraordinary. Perhaps because they work closely in stressful situations, they build an impenetrable bond, and trust each other completely.
If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know firsthand the rewards you get from such a relationship. Their loyalty, dedication, and desire to please are overwhelming. And for Civil Servant or Military service dogs, that goes a few steps further. After training, these pups work in tandem with their handlers to protect them -- and keep the rest of us safe.
So in honor of Jethro, Karo, Nicky, and all the four-legged heroes out there, we thank you. Good job!