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Rosie the Will County Forest Preserve Police dog retiring

Lt. Tracy Phillips with Forest Preserve District Will County Police Department is seen with Rosie police bloodhound Tuesday Nov. 13

Lt. Tracy Phillips, with the Forest Preserve District of Will County Police Department, is seen with Rosie, the police bloodhound, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, in Joliet. Rosie, who has seven years of service, retired due to arthritis on her ninth birthday on Sept. 21. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:22AM



WILL COUNTY — Before Will County Forest Preserve Police Lt. Tracy Phillips could answer the question about her canine partner’s personality, the boss walked into the office.

The moment Chief Robert Murphy set a small bag on a table and walked away to hang up his coat, Rosie came out of the other room and immediately took out half a bagel with her teeth.

“You were saying?” Phillips laughed as the bloodhound returned to lie down in her spot by Phillips’ desk.

“She’s lucky she’s retiring,” Sgt. Dave Barrios said as the culprit walked by.

“It was hers anyway,” Murphy shouted without even witnessing the theft. “She’s still my most obedient officer.”

After seven years of service, the 9-year-old bloodhound has developed arthritis and chronic ear infections and is being retired.

Rosie was donated to the department in late 2005 after an elderly woman with dementia walked into a preserve, requiring a search party to try find her. With nearly 22,000 acres of forest preserves in 70 locations, police felt it was worthwhile having a search-and-rescue dog.

Bloodhounds can be trained if their ears are longer than their noses to “sweep” the scent they’re tracking to their nostrils.

Unlike other police dogs such as German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, bloodhounds trail a specific scent. While those breeds would likely trail the last person to pass through a particular area, a bloodhound could ignore the searchers to find a match from someone’s clothing.

Phillips, who had small dogs growing up, and Rosie trained monthly with other police dogs and practiced searching every year at a New York state park.

Though Rosie was never used for a search in a preserve, she and Phillips regularly went to assist other departments. In 2009, Bolingbrook police called them after they took a suspected bank robber into custody.

“They rubbed his arm with gauze and gave it to Rosie, who started trailing from the bank,” Phillips recalled. “Even though it was a crazy windy day, she found a ski mask and kept going into the weeds where she found a pile of clothes (worn in the robbery) and a pellet gun.”

Rosie will continue to live with Phillips and occasionally visit the police office.

“Since being taken out of service she’s gotten very spoiled with food around here and has lost her girlish figure,” Phillips said. “But she’s very laid back and sleeps a lot. She’s a good ‘laying-on-the-front-porch’ dog.”

Officer Dean Klier will become the department’s next canine officer in January when the forest preserve buys a shepherd or Malinois to partner with him.

“Besides tracking, we’ll be able to do (drug) enforcement with one of those breeds,” Klier said. “When you love dogs as much as I do, I’m really looking forward to it.”



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