Dec. 20–A dispatcher on the Chicago Police Department radio channel used to request K-9 units held the air Sunday morning and asked everyone to stand by.
“All units stand by, Citywide 1,” she said. “7323 canine Rachel.”
When her handler, Officer Charles Kocanda, heard the dispatcher read out his beat number, he went to reach for his radio, which he didn’t have. Then he heard they were asking for the dog by name.
Kocanda worked with Rachel for 10 years. She was trained to detect explosives by the Transportation Security Administration and assigned to Chicago. A sudden onset of cancer in her spine left her partially paralyzed, and she was put down Sunday morning.
“7323 canine Rachel,” the dispatcher continued. “No response for canine Rachel.”
The dog has protected the president, first lady and foreign dignitaries. She searched fire trucks and St. Rita before the funeral for Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano, who died in a fire last year.
She rode the trains and buses with Kocanda. She knew when it was time to work, and she would wait at the door for Kocanda before each shift. If he had on his dark uniform, she knew she was going to work. If he wore his blue shirt, she knew she was staying home and waited in the window for him.
“This is a final call for Chicago Police Explosives canine Rachel.”
The dispatcher read the star number assigned to the dog, similar to a police officer’s badge number. She died exactly one year after searching Capuano’s funeral.
“Canine Rachel has faithfully served the Chicago Police Department since June 2006. On December 18, 2016, rest in peace canine Rachel. Correct time is 0911 hours. This is the last call.”
“18 December 2016, Citywide 1 radio’s clear.”
Other handlers were able to say goodbye to Rachel and she was put down about 15 minutes later.
Copyright 2016 – Chicago Tribune