Friday, September 20, 2013

Honoring a hero - By Michelle Libby

Early this past rainy Monday morning, officers and K9 dogs gathered in front of the Windham Public Safety building to celebrate the life of Windham’s first K9, Max. A garden with perennials and seasonal flowers was planted in remembrance and honor for the dog who paved the way for the K9 program in Windham. 
Sergeant Bill Andrew of Windham Police Department was Max’s handler and partner. He was at the ceremony with his new K9, Grinko, who was partially trained by Max. He summed up the ceremony with three words, “moving, honor, support.” 

Max was born on May 12, 1999 in the Czech Republic. He was chosen out of a field of 12 dogs and purchased in June 2000. Andrew was told, I have one more (dog) for you to look at, “if you don’t care what he looks like,” said Andrew. With only six months at the department Max and Andrew found a 4-year-old runaway child who was a half mile away from his home in Standish.
“Max is a hero,” said chief of police Rick Lewsen. 

In spring of 2002, Max became a narcotics detection dog. He helped take more than $1 million worth of cocaine and crack off the streets, Lewsen said.
Max retired in 2008 and died May 9, 2013, three days before his 13th birthday.
“He was smaller than most of our dogs, but he had a huge heart,” said Thomas Chard from Scarborough Police Department and head trainer for K9s in southern Maine. “He could take down a larger guy than him for his size because he had so much heart and drive.” 

Lewsen spoke about Max. “Max touched the lives of everyone here. He was our first canine and a member of the Windham Police Department,” he said.
The landscaping and building of the garden was completed by Dave Dixon from building maintenance. 

Last week, Andrew and Grinko had the chance to find a lost child. “I took Grinko out. He pulls me into the woods and there’s the kid. Thirty to 40 yards from where we were,” Andrew said. “It reminded me why I wanted to do this. We can get all the drugs in the world, as long as we find the child,” he added.
Andrew’s mother was in attendance. “Am I proud of him? Yes, I am,” she said with a tear in her eye. 

The rain, which had fallen earlier, held off during the ceremony, but Chard made sure to remember, “It always rains on dog training day.” 

K9 Grinko 

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