New K-9 memorial dedicated

Marianne Gillespie
A new K-9 memorial was dedicated April 28 in front of the Chillicothe Police Department. On hand, from left, is K-9 handler Nick Bridges and K-9 Dark, chainsaw artist Tim Gill and Police Chief Scott Mettille unveiling the memorial, and former K-9 officers Brent Cranford and Rich Mark.

It was a different ending to a Chillicothe City Council meeting.

Aldermen and those in attendance at the April 28 meeting walked across the street to the Chillicothe Police Department for a special unveiling of the new K-9 memorial.

A blue tarp covered the newest public chainsaw carving by Tim Gill and plastic covered a plaque attached to the building. A small memorial previously honored the city’s first police dog, Konan, but when K-9 Gosh died recently, it was time to add another memorial.

Instead of adding memorials each time a K-9 dog died, K-9 handler Nick Bridges contacted Gill about creating one of his wooden masterpieces for the area, adding a plaque created by Owens Design Group that can be updated when needed.

At the dedication, Chillicothe Police Chief Scott Mettille reminded those in attendance that “when K-9 officers go home, they take the job with them.”

He gave time for each of the city’s former and current K-9 officers to speak.

Former Chillicothe policeman and now U.S. Marshal Brent Cranford spoke as the first K-9 officer, who was Konan’s first handler.

“I took it as an honor to do that,” Cranford said.

He told the group his wife said he smelled and couldn’t hear since he was in a vehicle with the dog barking.

“It was a great experience for me and when I went into the Marshal’s service,” Cranford said.

When he left the department for the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Sgt. Rich Mark became K-9 Konan’s handler.

Mark said the job takes “a lot of dedication” as the K-9 handler not only works a shift with the dog but also is called out at various times for walking around vehicles for suspected drug activity or in tracking someone.

That’s just when duty calls, however, as K-9 Konan would sit by the car and want a ride when they had a day off. Mark would get the keys and take his partner for a spin. He recounted how Konan died in his arms, working up until that time.

After K-9 Konan’s death, the department moved ahead with the purchase of another German shepherd, K-9 Gosh, hailing from Belgium. This time, Bridges became his handler. He had always wanted to become a handler, he told the Chillicothe Times-Bulletin at the time.

K-9 Gosh served the department for about three-and-one-half years, assisting in drug arrests, tracking people and helping other agencies when needed.

“He’s more than just a partner in the car,” Bridges told the group. K-9 Gosh was put down after suffering from medical issues the last few months of his life. Mettille said that losing a K-9 dog is similar to losing a pet as the dog becomes part of the officer’s family, except that it adds an additional hardship because they are partners at work as well.

A few months after K-9 Gosh’s death, K-9 Dark from Germany joined the department. He and Bridges began their training and certification May 4.

K-9 Dark remained quiet throughout the ceremony, laying down and playing with a toy. After the ceremony, a girl asked Bridges if she could pet him. Nodding yes, she began petting him and then he rolled over wanting his belly rubbed.

That kind of temperament, Mettille said earlier in the night, makes certain K-9 dogs great for the community, whether it be a Boy Scout or Girl Scout group visiting the police department or around the schools.

For Gill, the project was special to him as he said he put his “heart and soul into this one.” His family also has a German shepherd, giving him insight into the specialness of the breed.

None of the department’s police dogs were used as the model for the carving, Mettille noted.

With the wooden dog appearing to look up at his handler for a command, the carving also features the look of a vest with “POLICE” on each side. Gill said the look of Kevlar is hard to carve, so instead he sanded the area and then painted it to look like a vest.

The dog itself is made out of oak and the bottom stand is maple. He worked on the project on and off for a couple weeks to complete it. In total it may stand about 5 feet.