She was the forest preserve’s first police dog, and on Sept. 21, her ninth birthday, Rosie retired, due to arthritis and chronic ear infections.
However, she still sometimes visits the department with her owner and former handler, Lieutenant Tracy Phillips, strolling up and down the halls and looking for an affectionate pat.
“She’s pampered is what she is,” said Bruce Hodgdon, public information specialist and press liaison for the forest preserve district.
Rosie wasn’t always pampered, though. During her career with the forest preserve, she lent her sharp sense of smell to police forces in many neighboring municipalities.
On one assignment, Rosie was given a sample of a bank robber’s scent and consequently discovered his black ski mask, clothing and pellet gun, all of which became evidence in the conviction.
She also once trailed a suicide victim based on the scent, despite being an open field dog working in an urban environment.
The forest preserve police decided to get a search dog after unsuccessfully spending an entire night searching the preserve district for a lost elderly woman.
Rosie began working for the department in December 2005. She trained to be a police dog for more than a year and traveled to Will County with Lt. Phillips from her home state of North Carolina.
In order for a bloodhound to qualify as a trailing dog, its ears must be longer than its nose, so its ears can sweep the scent into its nostrils. Rosie trails based on scent, whereas other police dogs track ground disturbances.
But Rosie’s career hasn’t all been catching bad guys. She also routinely visits local schools and community events to help educate county residents about law enforcement.
“She has been really well received by the public,” said Hodgdon. “She’s been a face of the forest preserve.”
In recent years, the forest preserve has hosted several fundraisers to pay for Rosie’s care. The events typically yield $2,500 per year.
Now that Rosie is retired, the department will soon welcome a new dog. The incoming canine will likely be a German shepherd, who will perform narcotics searches and tracking, and arrive in February.
Department Master Patrol Officer Dean Klier will be the new dog’s handler.
“It’s kind of a treat,” said Klier. “I love dogs.”
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