A bomb detection dog received a touching letter of farewell after years of service in his community. His handler shared what working with the K9 has been like and why he loved every minute of it.
K9 Officer Kojack retired this week. After many years working as a bomb detection dog he will be living the rest of his days with his handler, PConwell. PConwell shared with DogHeirs.com some of his photos of Kojack and the touching retirement letter he received from his Chief of Police.
The letter, addressed to Kojack read:
February 19, 2014
K9 Ofc. Kojack
Dear Ofc. Kojack:
It is understood that you are taking this opportunity to retire. Your request to retire is accepted. This letter authorizes you to keep your house, kennel, squeaky toys, greenies and rope toys. You must also agree to remain with Corporal [PConwell] for the rest of your natural life.
Thank you for your service to the —— Community.
Best wishes to you. Enjoy your retirement.
Chief of Police.
“I might have teared up a little the first time I read it,” PConwell admitted to DogHeirs.com.
Kojack worked as a single-purpose police dog. The German Shepherd didn’t do any bite or drug work, only explosives, said PConwell. Around 7 years old, Kojack’s health was beginning to deteriorate and as PConwell is being deployed overseas, the decision was made to retire him. PConwell’s roommate will be looking after Kojack while he’s gone.
“Working with a dog all day, every day is a lot more work than I thought (it’s not all fun and games), but I loved every minute,” wrote PConwell.
PConwell elaborated on some of the tougher aspects of working with Kojack, who had a few quirks and the challenges of canine police work.
“Well – one, just cleaning up after the dog. Kojack would try to eat whatever random anything he could, so he would throw up in the back of the car pretty regularly. It would get into all the little cracks and stuff and was a pain to clean up.”
He added, “Then, the schedule can be kinda rough. Depending on what events were going on (we spent most of our time searching before sporting events, concerts, etc) you might be out till midnight one night, then two days later have to come in at 2am to search something. Then you can kinda get into some somewhat high profile/political stuff – like things were super crazy right after the Boston Bombing.”
“Probably the biggest challenge, though, is that you can’t tell the dog ‘Hey, I know you are tired/hungry/whatever, but can you suck it up for 10 minutes while we search this U-Haul parked outside the stadium with 30,000 people in it’. You definitely have to have faith in the dog and really pay attention to subtle clues he may be giving,” said PConwell. “That’s why we have to train on a weekly basis, you really have to build the team – and when I say team, I really mean it takes the full effort of both the dog and the handler.”
As for an exceptional case Kojack worked on, PConwell said there wasn’t any particular one that sprung to mind. “I don’t know that we have any great stories to share. He was a single purpose bomb dog (so no drugs or bite work) and fortunately we never had a ‘real’ bomb. There were a few scary moments where we thought we came across something, and one time we came this close to evacuating 30,000 people in a stadium but it turned out to be some fireworks that the pyro technician irresponsibly threw away in probably the most suspicious way possible. Needless to say, that tech doesn’t work at that stadium anymore.”
The two are now adjusting to their new relationship. PConwell wrote, “He isn’t happy when I leave without him… He has some medical issues though, so it’s hard for him to move around some days. It’s better this way, but it is a little emotional leaving him at home.” But Kojack is pretty well adjusted and easy to please. PConwell said, “If he gets a tennis ball from time to time and some food, he’s pretty content.”
Photos, Letter and text reprinted with permission from PConwell. This article first appeared on DogHeirs on February 21, 2014