A furry Columbus Police Department K-9 unit veteran who had his vest hung up 2½ years ago now may have less than a week left to live.
The dog, Blitz, and his handler, Jim Myers, retired in 2012 after serving the department together for four years.
While working for the police, the 12-year-old German shepherd became so popular in both the department and the community that Myers started a Facebook page for the dog. That page has been updated often over the past two years.
Those updates became more frequent within the past week after a veterinarian found a cancerous tumor near the canine’s stomach.
In his prime, Blitz was unstoppable, Myers said.
As a team, Myers and Blitz had a 93 percent success rate on tracking — more than double what many courts consider reliable — and were directly responsible for more than 300 arrests, including just 16 bite apprehensions.
Blitz also sniffed out more than 200 pounds of marijuana, three pounds of cocaine, 6 pounds of meth and $47,000 during his tenure with the K-9 unit.
CPD’s three K-9 teams are on call 24/7, and Blitz didn’t get many breaks between tracking burglary suspects for up to 2½ miles, assisting state police troopers and waking up in the middle of the night to find much-needed evidence.
But Blitz didn’t mind, Myers said, because he loved working — and he was incredibly good at it.
And while Blitz was a successful in his police role, he is a good-natured, people-loving dog, Myers said.
Blitz can be aggressive when needed during a chase or a search, Myers said.
But there is “nothing mean about him,” his handler said. Blitz can change his demeanor in seconds when given a command but will be back to normal in the same amount of time, Myers said. The dog is extremely laid-back unless he’s in work mode.
Myers describes Blitz as intelligent, sociable and affectionate. And it’s those traits, Myers said, that helped Blitz easily transition from the police K-9 unit to family pet.
Knowing that Blitz doesn’t have much time left is hard, Myers said.
“If I could hang onto him as long as possible, I would love that,” he said.
After “hundreds and hundreds of hours together” on 10-hour and 12-hour shifts, Myers said, you can’t help but bond, and Blitz is more of a partner than he is a pet.
That’s made the past week particularly difficult, Myers said.
He spent last Monday and Tuesday sitting beside Blitz reminiscing, Myers said, and he’s slept on the floor with Blitz to help keep the canine comfortable.
The Myers family is doing everything it can to ease Blitz’s pain and make sure he isn’t suffering, including keeping the dog’s beloved tennis ball close at hand, he said.
Myers doesn’t want to see Blitz go but said he understands the inevitable is coming.
“He’s done his time,” Myers said. “I just want him to go as peacefully and as pain-free as possible.”