Jackson County Iowa Sheriff's Department, Preston, Maquoketa, K-9, K-9 officer, early retirement, retirement

K-9 officer retiring sooner than expected

PRESTON, Iowa-- Hondo, the Dutch Shepherd, is adjusting to a slower life. He recently retired from the Jackson County Iowa Sheriff's Department.

“I think if I came out with my uniform on, he’d want to go out to the car and go to work," his partner Deputy Chad Gruver said.

The 8-year-old dog joined the force when he was just 18 months old. He and Deputy Gruver bonded quickly.

“I never thought I’d become that attached to dogs," Gruver said. “It’s not something I can really explain. We had a week where we just bonded. I took him for walks, took him to work. Just got to know each other. And our bond was like instant.”

Hondo is retiring earlier than expected after tearing his ACL last month. He and Gruver were playing Frisbee in the yard when it happened, and it's his second knee injury.

“The sheriff felt that, since he had the second injury and due to his age, he just decided he would retire him and we’d be looking at getting a new one in the fall," Gruver said.

Hondo is looking at three months of recovery before catching Frisbees again. Unlike his last injury, he won't be returning to work.

“We’ll see how he reacts," Gruver said. "But I think he’s going to still have that drive. He had a lot of drive in him.”

During his time with the force, Hondo helped with break-ins and recovered narcotics. He was trained by North Iowa K-9 and can detect nearly a dozen drugs, track and bite on command.

"He works so fast," Gruver said. "And you’re constantly trying to watch his nose and his tail and his posture. If we go into a room and he smells it (a drug), he’s just going to go right to it.”

Gruver won't be getting a new partner. A different deputy will be paired with a K-9 later this year. The department is accepting donations for the trained dog, which will cost over $12,000.