Bodie, the Sacramento Police Department canine critically injured four years ago by a fleeing car thief, was back in the spotlight Wednesday, sharing it this time with son Blitz, the newest member of the Citrus Heights Police Department’s K9 team.
Bodie and his offspring were reunited for Blitz’s graduation from K9 training. The 15-month-old German shepherd is to begin patrol duties Thursday with Officer Joe Davis.
As part of the celebration, the two dogs split a cake, topped with a decorative paw print. Sgt. Nicole Garing, Citrus Heights K9 unit supervisor and pastry chef, said the cake was dog-friendly. Her recipe: flour, oatmeal and honey, with peanut butter frosting.
The department considered 25 before choosing Blitz
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Although a bit hesitant to drop his Kong toy for cake, Bodie soon dug into his slice.
“The retiree can eat a ton,” quipped his owner, Sacramento police Sgt. Randy Van Dusen.
Blitz was a bit more tentative, licking the frosting before taking bite. Then he showed off the skills he’s learned to become a certified police dog.
Blitz was one of five puppies born April 28, 2015, and the only male in the litter. One of his sister’s is a search and rescue dog in Texas, and two others are being trained for Schutzhund, a competitive sport for working breed dogs, said Blitz’s trainer, Tim Kiesling of D-Tac K-9. The fifth puppy, Bailey, lives with Bodie, another retired police dog, Bosko, and the Van Dusen family. Bailey helps keep her dad in shape, leading Bodie on chases in the backyard, Van Dusen said.
Blitz landed the Citrus Heights post on his own merits, not because of his father’s fame. Lt. Chad Courtney said department considered 25 dogs before choosing Blitz.
Kiesling said he began training Blitz when the dog was 10 weeks old. Kiesling said puppies are evaluated on their hunt and prey drive, courage, response to unusual objects and situations, and their reaction to loud noises such as gunfire.
Once Blitz began training with his handler, Davis, he was certified within three weeks, a remarkably short time, Kiesling said.
Davis said Blitz is his first law enforcement canine.
Rebecca Rodgers, the breeder with Roseville-based Valkyre, also was on hand for Blitz’s graduation festivities. Rodgers said she had always admired Bodie as a working dog and was pleased when Van Dusen said he would like a litter sired by Bodie.
Bodie, now 8 years old, saved Van Dusen’s life May 18, 2012, when the dog was shot trying to apprehend Lucus Jerome Webb, 33, a car theft suspect, following a car chase and foot pursuit through Land Park.
Webb fired at Van Dusen, striking Bodie. The bullet shattered the dog’s jawbone and two toes, and nearly severed his tongue.
Webb died in the exchange of gunfire that followed.
Bodie nearly bled to death. He received 17 units of blood when he arrived at a veterinary hospital and underwent five major surgeries.
Although he recovered from the gunshot wounds, spinal surgery for a herniated disk raised concerns that rigorous police work would be too much for him. He retired in May 2013, and Bosko succeeded Bodie as Van Dusen’s K9 partner.
When Van Dusen was promoted to sergeant, his duties changed, and Bosko joined Bodie in retirement.
Van Dusen said Blitz has inherited the traits that made Bodie a skilled police dog, as well as his “softer side,” making him a lovable family member.