Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Celina's retired police dog dies

By Margie Wuebker
Nick, who served 10 years as the Celina Police Department's first K-9 unit, died early Wednesday morning at the home of his handler, Patrolman Dan Harting.
The 13-year-old German Shepard had shown signs of fatigue in recent days and died in his sleep, according to Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser.
Nick joined the police department in September 2000 after being brought from his German homeland for specialized training.
Before joining the force, Nick and Harting made a visit to Celina Intermediate School for the fifth-grade DARE program. Those students chose the name Nick in honor of Deputy Nick Schulze, who was DARE officer at the time.
"Some agencies want a dog that is aggressive all the time," Slusser said. "We wanted a well-rounded dog that could interact well with children and be aggressive when the need arose. Nick certainly fit the bill."
Officers remember his search and tracking abilities that led to numerous apprehensions over the years.
On one occasion, Nick and Harting responded to a reported alarm at Lake Contracting. The K-9 searched the building and located the intruder hiding beneath a pile of supplies.
Another call involved a domestic altercation where the perpetrator had fled. Nick demonstrated his tracking abilities by going from West Bank Road to a camper parked along U.S. 127 where the man was hiding. The man surrendered after coming face-to-face with Nick.
The dog served 10 years; Slusser said the average service time is five to eight years.
Before retiring June 1, 2010, Nick served as a mentor for his successor, K-9 unit Ted.
"Nick was a good mentor," Slusser told The Daily Standard. "In his own way, he was able to instill social skills as well as a love for children."
Nick's last official duty on retirement day involved attending the Ultimate After-School Party for Celina students, at Lake Shore Park.
He spent his last years as a member of Harting's household but never lost his desire to climb into a cruiser and head to work with the handler.
"He always wanted to come along," Harting said this morning. "He even followed me to the cruiser Tuesday morning. My wife later said he sat there in the yard, looking down the road for 15 to 20 minutes. Work was still on his mind even though the end was near."
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