Many dogs serve our police departments as K9’s with dignity and courage. Many of them die (End of Watch) in service to our communities. I’ve known this but because I thought they were treated as working dogs and not pets with the theory that being a pet interferes with their abilities as K9 Officers I really didn’t want to know much more. Of course they have my utmost respect but it hurt knowing they spent their off time in kennels lonely and unloved. That is until K9 Jethro taught me otherwise.
Jethro made headlines not because he was shot while on duty but because he survived at least for a while. His fight to live tugged at our hearts as we prayed waiting for good news that never came. Jethro eventually succumbed to his fatal wounds.
So what was different about Jethro? What was it that made him stand out from all the other working k9 dogs? For me it was learning he had a home life. He didn’t go to work and then go home to a kennel. Jethro went home to his family.
Jethro was purchased at eight weeks of age to be a companion pet for Officer Davis’ young daughter. We saw pictures and videos showing he was treated as a beloved pet. He had his own dog bed in the house. He spent time with his family members. (The other loved canine family member is Armin, Officer Davis' first K9 who is now retired.) I loved reading the story of how protective he was of the daughter. One time she and her father were rough housing in the house which greatly concerned Jethro. At first Jethro maneuvered his body between the two, then he growled a warning, and finally he bit her dad. She was his girl no matter what. There was a video of Jethro at the lake with the family. He was on a dock and when the daughter jumped in, so did he! He played fetch in the backyard and Officer Davis spoke of how he had learned to open doors so many times he just came right into the shower because he loved the spraying water.
The following video gives us glimpses into his life as a family pet along with Armaund and as a working K9 Officer.
He became a working K9 because he showed great potential. He trained with his handler who also happened to be his pawrent. I read somewhere the daughter also worked with them. I also read Jethro was immensely strong and fearless that he could have become a champion in the police dog competitions. His trainer said Jethro was one of his favorites. Those who were fortunate enough to meet Jethro said he was truly one of a kind. "He was a unique dog," said Tammy Pierce, who attended the vigil Sunday. "Not too many dogs can turn it on and off and he could. He was a sweetheart. It's a shame this had to happen to him."
Then one night he was shot three times as he captured a burglar who I read had bite marks on his arm. I choked up reading the news reports. I cried seeing the pictures of him laying on the blanket always with his human partner next to him. I grieved when I read he didn’t make it. I grieved for this beautiful dog who would have been three years old in a just a few more days. I grieved for the officer who had lost a faithful partner. I grieved for the family who had lost their beloved pet.
I couldn’t understand why this particular dog I had never met touched me in such a profound way. Yes, he was a beautiful dog. Yes, he had amazing eyes that somehow spoke to me. Then it dawned on me why this amazing creature tore at my heart strings. We always search for the why’s in tragedies even if we never discover them. I think Jethro had a legacy to fulfill.
Yes, his legacy is to represent all the K9's who serve our country but for me there is a deeper understanding. Jethro lived such a short life but what an amazing life it was. This boy woke up every morning in a home with people he loved who loved him right back. He shared in their daily lives. When everyone left for work or school, Jethro wasn’t left home to wait for them to return. He eagerly went to work with his partner (Dad).
K9’s give their love and devotion for their partners so they truly deserve as much in return. K9 Jethro leaves a legacy for both K9’s and their partners. He was a valued loved member of the police force and he was a valued loved member of a family. My prayer is that every K9 has a loving family to go home to at the end of work each day.
God bless you Jethro. You gave your all for the ones you love.