Watch CBS News

Suburban Chicago K-9 Officer Dax hangs up his collar

Dax, decoraded K-9 Officer from Lake Co. retires
Dax, decoraded K-9 Officer from Lake Co. retires 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS) —   It's the end of an era in Lake County.

K-9 Officer Dax is hanging up the collar.

It was a bittersweet ceremony for the Lake County Sheriff's Office as they sent Dax into retirement. A large crowd showed up for his retirement ceremony.

We might not understand what K-9 Officer Dax is barking, but he had a lot to say at his retirement ceremony.

"That's going to make him bark again. We just got him quiet," said John Forlenza, Lake County Sheriff K-9 Handler Deputy. 

Dax is a German shepherd who joined the Lake County Sheriff's Department at 13 months old in 2015.

He has quite the resume.

The sheriff's office says Dax located more than 400 missing endangered people or fleeing felons, seized hundreds of kilos of illegal drugs, and found dozens of guns.

His handler, Sheriff's Deputy John Forlenza, recalled a rescue in 2022 where Dax found a woman who had a mental crisis.

"She passed out in the woods; she was out there in the cold for a while. We were able to get there after a significant amount of time and still be able to locate her and save her life. Clearly, she wouldn't have been found if Dax hadn't of been out there," Forleza said. 

He's also won over 15 awards during his service and has numerous top finishes in tracking, suspect search, protection, and more competitions.

"We're going to miss that. We're going to miss that all he brought, the safety he brought for Lake County," said Lake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Christopher Covelli. 

But the turnout for his retirement ceremony speaks volumes of how much Dax means to the community.

Pat Behlef brought her an extended family member. Five-year-old Ky to honor Dax.

"You can't go a week without hearing the stuff that Dax has done. It was just really hard to see him retire this way," Behlef said. 

She's talking about how last month he was hurt while helping catch a suspect who was running from a stolen car that crashed.

Dax injured his back, and during his recovery, he was diagnosed with a spinal disease.

"I'll miss having him with me at work everyday, as a partner because there's such a strong bond there, but I'm happy for him that he made it past that last appointment," Forleza said. 

During his ceremony, Dax had much to say, and his retirement looks pretty sweet. He'll enjoy long walks to keep him preoccupied and lifelong belly rubs. 

Forlenza said he's thinking about getting another police dog, but he knows it won't fill Dax's paws.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.