13-year old German Shepherd, Sultan, was the Yarmouth Maine Police Department’s first police dog, reports Matt Byrne of the Portland Press Harold. On February 13, several police officers from across the state came together to say goodbye to their loyal partner one last time.
Officer Mike Vogel, Sultan’s only handler when he was active, spoke out, “He’s such a proud dog, always watching”. Vogel proposed a K-9 unit back in 2003 and with the chief’s blessing and some generous donations, Vogel took ownership of the 1-year old Sultan — delivered from France. “Sultan and Vogel answered more than 1,000 calls together, capturing dozens of suspects, untold amounts of cash and more than 100 pounds of narcotics,” says Byrne.
It was 2012 when they’re partnership ended and Vogel took a job offer in Florida and couldn’t take Sultan. That’s when Officer Shane Stephenson took in the retired Sultan as a pet. Stephenson had aspirations of being a handler and said Sultan, being a veteran dog, taught him a lot about how to handle a working canine.
A K-9 handler with the Maine State Police, Justin Cooley thought of the indescribable bond between handlers and their partners. “It goes much deeper than just working with them. These are dogs that we take home with us, they get to know our family. They’re with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You go through a lot of things with them, and you just dread this day.”
Around 6 months ago, Sultan began showing signs of arthritis and also suffered a seizure that would lead to more. Soon he had stopped eating and became too weak to even stand up. That’s when Stephenson knew that dreaded day was here. Officers gathered around the hatch of Stephenson’s SUV, where Sultan was laying. They approached and exchanged nods, one last pet, and one last ear rub.
Today, I too salute to you, Sultan. Thank you for all of your hard work!