MEMORIAL SERVICE HONORS POLICE, MILITARY K-9s

Garden Of Heroes, Palm Harbor, Florida

Sergeant Mike Kilian conducted the memorial ceremony to honor police and military K-9s
Sergeant Mike Kilian conducted the memorial ceremony to honor police and military K-9s

The events are just two months apart. On March 5th I attended a memorial service honoring police and military K-9s, in north Pinellas County, Florida. The exact location is the Garden of Heroes, an area reserved for service animals and K-9 dogs on the beautiful grounds of Curlew Hills Memory Garden in Palm Harbor.

And yesterday, on May 27th, the nation celebrated Memorial Day. I took this photo a few days prior, just after local Boy Scouts had placed flags throughout the entire property. It was an emotional sight.

At Curlew Hills Memory Garden’s pet cemetery for K-9 heroes, 73 flags fly in preparation for Memorial Day 2019
At Curlew Hills Memory Garden’s pet cemetery for K-9 heroes, 73 flags fly in preparation for Memorial Day 2019

Pastor Danny McDonald Officiated

“All dogs go to heaven.” These words often appear on social media. However, it’s especially poignant when they are said at a memorial service to honor police and military dogs. I think, without exception, we all believe that.

Pastor Danny McDonald lead officers, family members and community supporters in prayer and words of gratitude
Pastor Danny McDonald lead officers, family members and community supporters in prayer and words of gratitude

In addition, Pastor McDonald told the attendees that working dogs have “enormous heart” and are motivated to fulfill their mission to serve. He also said that the memorialized K-9s were “Knights of Valor.” How true.

MILITARY WAR DOG

MWD Sgt E5 Pphantom USAF

Sgt Pphantom completed nine years of service in base security with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Recipient of the United States War Dog Association War Dog Medal, he retired and was adopted by Bill and Sheila Schroeder. 

The ceremony memorializing law enforcement and war dogs was covered extensively by the media
The ceremony memorializing law enforcement and war dogs was covered extensively by the media

MILITARY SERVICE DOG

MSD Honey

Honey was a Certified Full Mobility, P.T.S.D., Medical Service Dog. She was the faithful friend and partner/companion to U.S. Army Veteran, Michael Gaither. “She saved me, my life many times, and always had my back, always by my side.” 

LAW ENFORCEMENT DOGS

As expected, those present at the ceremony memorializing both law enforcement and war dog heroes experienced a range of emotions. As each officer paid tribute to their K-9 partner, there was pride and sadness, as well as smiles, laughter, and tears. Here’s a tiny part of their stories.

It’s tough when you lose your working partner, closest friend and cherished family member
It’s tough when you lose your working partner, closest friend and cherished family member

K-9 Axel, Handler Sergeant Kilian, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

Dual certified in patrol and narcotics, Axel was a great dog. But he was also somewhat of a problem child due to his loud, obnoxious barking. And he had a few bites on deputies while on calls for service. Nothing too serious, though!

K-9 Buck, Handler Officer Ambrose, Clearwater Police Department

Buck was so smart they had to change the way they did bomb detection training. He figured out how the reward towels were set up with fishing lines. As a result, the trainers moved the lines to the other side of the fence so he couldn’t see them. He also had an “on/off switch.” He was as sweet and patient as could be when visiting a kid’s school and then go straight back to business.

K-9 Egon, Handler Retired Sergeant Wagner, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

On one call, Sergeant Wagner thought he knew more than his partner. He was pretty sure that the suspect was hiding behind a car even though Egon had alerted in the bushes that were directly behind his handler. Eventually Sgt Wagner took Egon back to the bushes where the suspect was. The big take away from his experience…“Trust your dog!”

K-9 Koa, Handler Retired Officer Dawson, Clearwater Police Department 

I really wish I had a copy of the poem that Officer Dawson wrote about his friend, companion and working partner, Koa, so I could share it with you. But, unfortunately, I don’t. What I can tell you, though, is that it was long, beautifully written and, very emotional. After having been with Clearwater PD for 20 years, Ofc. Dawson now works with Pinellas County School Police.

K-9 Scout, Handler Officer Burnside, Clearwater Police Department

Now, this is some story about a K-9 trained to detect drugs and firearms. On his first day home he was loose inside and what did he do? Well, he started running in full sprints in circles, ran into the china cabinet, and broke all the plates!

K-9 Toby, Handler Deputy Blizniak, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

Toby was a stellar, single purpose, narcotics detection dog assigned to the Narcotics Unit. He loved to swim and got so much enjoyment from this activity whenever he had the opportunity.

Somehow this handsome working dog knew who we were memorializing that day
Somehow this handsome working dog knew who we were memorializing that day

A Working Dog’s Oath

At this memorial service honoring the area’s police and military K9s that had passed during the last 12 months, somebody gave me a small card. Here is the text in a different format. It sums up the life, duty and sacrifice of those who protect us.

This working dog’s oath says it all
This working dog’s oath says it all

To Sum Up

The article here that is entitled Memorial Service Honors Police Military K-9s is just the second one I’ve written about working dog heroes. I’m looking forward to doing more research so, if you have any ideas for future topics, please let me know.

And, in case you missed the K-9 graduation story, you can read about it here. https://petpeevesunmasked.com/k9-graduation-day-clearwater-florida/

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