Colchester Police Cpl. David Dewey pulled into the firehouse at St. Michael’s College with his K9 crimestopper, Tazor, in tow on Monday. The duo were headed to a day of training with other area police dogs.
It will be one of Tazor’s last. Doctors found the 12-year-old Belgian Malinois had numerous tumors, believed to be cancerous, that will bring both his service and tail wagging to an end.
“My biggest concern is his comfort and his safety,” said Dewey, Tazor’s handler. “He doesn’t appear to be in any pain at all: Jumps up off the couch, he’s eating well, he’s playing. He still wants to keep working, so I’m going to let him; he was literally bred and born to do that.”
Tazor has worked alongside Dewey since 2006 when he joined the squad as a young pup. He’s earned drug and patrol certifications and netted an average of 100 calls per year. The shepherd has also helped in seizure operations totaling $22,000 in cash over his 12-year career. But one month ago, a routine vet visit gave Dewey and the doctor pause.
“We went for a regular vet appointment there were some anomalies … no big red flags,” Dewey said. A follow-up appointment two weeks later revealed tumors and ailments beyond treatment.
“When I look at the diagnosis, obviously it’s not good,” Dewey said. “It is going to kill him.”
Despite the upsetting prognosis, the corporal and his furry coworker have continued their efforts, helping with a felony car stop in Winooski and conducting drug searches in recent days.
“Everything that I ask him to do, he’s doing,” Dewey said. “But I also have to be careful because of the breed and the training that these dogs go through.”
Dewey said police dogs will work through even grave injuries to ensure they meet their duties. Tazor once soldiered
on a call with a broken toe without limping or whining; Dewey only discovered the injury when he saw appendage was crooked.
“I have to be very in tune to making sure that what I’m seeing is not just him forcing his way through it,” he said.
Attuned to Tazor may be an understatement. The duo share an office, vehicle and bed. According to Dewey, Tazor is a friendly, social dog who can transition into and out of work like the switch of a light.
In fact, Tazor served as Dewey’s “wingman,” helping him meet his wife after she and her son asked to meet the K9. So greatly do the couple attribute their relationship to Tazor that after learning he would soon die, they moved up the date of their wedding to ensure the dog’s presence. Tazor served as ring bearer and happily munched on a toy as Dewey and his wife exchanged vows.
“It was very very bittersweet,” he said. “The background sound to my life is him chewing on a toy.”
Tazor’s diligence and playfulness will certainly be missed around the police department, Lt. Jeff Barton said: “It’s something you don’t want to think about until the day comes,” he said.
Tazor has a bed at CPD but spends most of his time patrolling the offices seeking treats and affection from his colleagues. “He’s a mooch,” Barton joked, adding, “he’s part of the family.”
The K9 program will continue after Tazor’s death, Barton said. Dewey said he’d like to continue on with a police dog should he be given the opportunity.
Dewey said he doesn’t mourn the “lasts” because Tazor lives each day to the fullest.
“This is the best, by far, job in law enforcement,” he said. “To have the honor of working [Tazor] for so many years. He’s had a good run, that’s for sure.”