Cancer claims MPD bloodhound, CJ
CJ, the Monroe Police Department's only K-9 officer, died Wednesday night in Police Officer Josie Lodder's home.
CJ was diagnosed with with lympho-carcinoma in late March.
Lodder, his owner and handler, purchased him when he was eight weeks old. A full-blooded Bloodhound, he came from a pedigree of respected tracking dogs.
"He had a very special heritage," Lodder said.
In addition to his police work, CJ reached out to the community. He and Lodder visited schools, churches, nursing homes, pet stores and anywhere else they were invited.
"Being that he was so good-natured, it was very easy to have him out in the public," Lodder said. "CJ was quite a character."
Union County provided him a K-9 escort Friday evening.
"It's a tradition in the K-9 world that when the dog goes home that another K-9 will escort him home," Lodder said.
Lodder said she has been touched by the community's response.
"It's so nice that people have been very supportive," Lodder said.
Prior to CJ's diagnosis, Lodder was involved in creating a K-9 memorial. People are interested in helping with the memorial and would like to do something to commemorate CJ, she said.
"It's just been really neat that people want to do something," she said.
In addition to his tracking skills, which were used in the DMV shooting case among other things, CJ was helpful in allowing people to warm to police officers, Lodder said.
"It was amazing how many times I could bring him out and it would take down barriers...make people warm and talk more openly," Lodder said. "He made a lot of friends with people."
In addition, CJ helped open the door for educational opportunities. Giving Lodder the chance to talk to children especially aboutt dog safety or other issues.
His service was valuable to the force.
"CJ performed a valuable service," Monroe Police Chief Debra Duncan said. "He was not only K-9, he was family and his handler Josie is taking it pretty hard. He will be missed."
Duncan said they are in the process of getting more K-9 officers in the future. "But they won't replace CJ," she said.
CJ can never be replaced for Lodder, either.
"He was my best friend. My partner. My back-up," she said. "He never complained about anything. He always had the best attitude–always positive, ready for work, hard-working and a lot of drive and enthusiasm."