COVINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) A police dog is more than just a partner.
“He’s with me. We work ten hour shifts, and he’s with me for ten hours,” says Sgt. Chad Wickline, of the Alleghany Sherriff’s Office. “And then when we go home, he’s still with me.”
Because the dog and his handler form a bond unlike any other, like the bond Wickline had with Czako.
“I’ve worked with him for seven and a half years,” he says. “During that time, he was a good dog. He was a good dog as far as his personality, working around kids, working dog. A fantastic trailing dog.”
Trained to detect drugs, apprehend suspects, and trail.
“I think it was over thirty successful tracks for Czako over his career,” says Chief Deputy Matt Bowser.
A career that was supposed to end next year, with a comfortable retirement at home. But cancer stepped in, and Czako’s end came too soon.
“Yeah, it’s different. It’s an adjustment,” Wickline says of the empty kennel at home. “Even when he was sick, you know there was still – he wouldn’t come to work with me, but there was still things that you had to do. And it’s just, it’s just an adjustment period and it’s just not the same right now without him being there.”
“We’ve never done anything in the past to honor our canines,” explains Bowser. “And our canines, they go out and they dedicate their lives just like the officers dedicate their lives. They put their lives in harm’s way day in and day out to protect the citizens just like a deputy would.”
So, inspired by Czako’s example, they’re hoping to build a memorial here for all the police canines of the Alleghany Highlands, with space for those to come.
Like Czako’s puppy, promised to the department by the trainer who raised him, they think by next summer.
“I’m hoping,” Wickline says of the puppies he met in October. “I’m hoping to get his bloodline back on the streets.”
The Sheriff’s Office is raising money to fund the memorial. You can make a contribution at their office, or on GoFundMe.