Barney, Northwood’s former crime-fighting K-9 police dog who was cut last year from the budget, only to be reinstated a short time later with donations from a sympathetic public, died from complications of cancer on Nov. 11.
Patrolman Fred Genzman, his ex-handler, was at his side.
In August, the city had announced that Barney, 7 1/2 –years-old, was retiring as the city’s K-9 because he had cancer.
Barney stayed at home with Genzman and his family to live out his remaining days in comfort.
Genzman was told by Barney’s vet that the cancer was very aggressive, though the dog had no symptoms at the time of its diagnosis. Genzman had taken Barney to the vet for a checkup because the German Shepherd and Czechoslovakian Shepherd mix had uncharacteristically started having training issues during his K-9 certification test. Barney had always passed the test, required every two years for certification, with flying colors.
After his cancer diagnosis, Genzman said he noticed in November that Barney was tiring easily and having trouble getting up.
“He really started wearing out. One week before we put him down, he just laid there. He didn’t move, had no interest in anything. He wouldn’t come. We thought maybe it was time. The real trick was when we took out his toy ball. He always went nuts for that ball. But he had no interest in it. The next day, he started walking again, was eating and drinking, and we thought he may just not have been feeling well the day before. Then one week later, he did it again. All he wanted to do was drink constantly, which was a sign something was going on. He went outside and lay down in the same spot for six hours and wouldn’t come in.”
Genzman decided it was time.
“We called the vet, who said to bring him in. There weren’t any tests to do because they knew what was going on. It was a question of either putting him down, or trying to prolong his life a bit. They could give him a shot. But the vet said we would be putting a band-aid on cancer. I just didn’t want him to be in any pain,” said Genzman.
“He puffed himself up and walked in there. Then they put the I.V. on him, and he just lay down,” said Genzman.
Barney was purchased with a Homeland Security grant six years ago.
He was trained in several disciplines, including obedience, tracking, article search, building search, area search, explosives and bite work.
Barney was an effective crime fighting tool while working the beat with Genzman. He nabbed car thieves, vandals, intimidated juveniles looking for trouble, and secured local sites for presidential candidates campaigning in the area. Genzman also took Barney to schools where students learned about his crime-fighting skills, which was also a public relations success.
Last December, Genzman learned that Barney was on a list of budget cuts being made by the city due to the economic recession. After reading about Barney’s early retirement in The Press, several businesses and individuals rallied and donated funds that allowed the K-9 to remain on the force.
In a letter to the editor that announced Barney’s passing in The Press, Genzman paid tribute to his former partner.
“K-9 Barney served as the explosives detection canine for the northwest Ohio area. He served all levels of government from federal, state and local with pride and enthusiasm. From deployments of catching the `bad guy’ to securing sites for the VIP’s to the area, public demonstrations, and meeting the local school kids, K-9 Barney truly loved his job,” stated Genzman. “K-9 Barney had a knack for making friends no matter where we went.”
Genzman went on to thank those who were involved in his success as a K-9 unit.
“There are many individuals, businesses and organizations I want to personally thank for helping fund the program due to city budget cuts. To Northwood City Council who voted to bring him back with private money, to the people who had sent cards after he was retired, I personally say `Thank you.’ Thank you for the memories, and the opportunity to serve with such a talented canine.”