The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office K-9 deputy has served the department as a drug detection dog for two thirds of his 6-and-a-half-year life. There were cases in which he revealed nearly 300 pounds of marijuana at one time. He’s claimed a patrol car as his own.
It’s difficult to tell what’s hurting the 106-pound German shepherd more — the cancer that has metastasized through his spine and lungs, or his recent retirement from police work.
Sgt. Jesse Grimm has been Arie’s handler all along. They learned the art of K-9 drug detection together, said Grimm.
The Last Call
Grimm knew that Tuesday night was to be Arie’s last shift before his Wednesday retirement. But he had no idea that on an evening call, his partner would score such a significant bust, a reported discovery of 40 pounds of marijuana in someone’s vehicle.
It was about 10 p.m. when Grimm brought Arie to the scene and gave him a command to sniff the clear night air for the scent of illegal drugs.
The dog honed in on the vehicle, sniffed at its exterior, considered – and sat.
Arie will not sit during a hunt unless he detects the scent of illegal drugs, Grimm told Cowboy State Daily.
As soon as the dog’s bottom hit the ground, deputies searched the car and found a reported 40 pounds of marijuana, a felony-level quantity of the drug in Wyoming.
“It definitely wasn’t a call we anticipated or expected,” said Grimm. “But we’ve got a pretty good team, and that’s what Arie is best at.”
Waiting By The Door
The next day, Wednesday, Arie retired. The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office held a heartfelt ceremony for the K-9 agent, and Grimm bought him for $1 from the department.
That’s a symbolic gesture by dog handlers throughout the country when their partners retire, Grimm said.
Arie will get to live out his final days in comfort at Grimm’s house, resting, going out for the occasional swim — which is his second-favorite activity after nosing out illegal substances and staring down tense suspects until they surrender.
Retirement won’t be easy.
“He hates not going to work. He waits by the door for me,” said Grimm. “This is going to be the hardest thing for him, because he really lives to get in that patrol car.”
Arie’s exuberance on the job hid his cancer, said Grimm. He wasn’t crotchety, he wasn’t fatigued.
But in May, Grimm discovered a mass on Arie’s side under his front leg and took the dog to his local veterinarian.
The vet said this was a big deal. He sent the dog on to a veterinary teaching hospital in Colorado.
There, doctors cut the tumor out and scanned the dog for other masses.
Arie was poised to undergo radiation treatment, but a follow-up scan revealed it was too late. The cancer had metastasized , spawning growths along his spine and on his lungs in the days following his surgery.
“It’s just that aggressive of a cancer,” said Grimm. “It’s insane.”
Now Arie’s doctors are estimating he’ll live another one or two months.
But all along, the veterinarians were shocked at how stoic the dog has been, Grimm said. Arie is a creature of duty.
“Even when he’s in pain, he won’t tell me, which makes it difficult for his treatment, even,” said Grimm.
Human deputies can be the exact same way, he added.
Don’t You Dare
Along with Arie’s large discoveries of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, the dog likes to intimidate suspects who don’t vibe right, said Grimm.
“You’ll hear of what’s called non-physical apprehensions,” Grimm began, saying that some suspects are nervous at the mere presence of a police dog and will surrender.
“You can tell a bad guy is very willing to square off with five officers, but the minute Arie steps out of the car, they make eye contact and it’s an instant surrender,” said Grimm.
The sergeant described a tense encounter with a suspect who was sitting in a vehicle, being obstinate.
Either the man was looking to fight, or he was looking to run, said Grimm.
Grimm started calling out commands to the suspect, ordering him to stay where he was.
But Arie was still back in the patrol car. And he was very alarmed.
“Arie could tell as I was giving this guy directions,” said Grimm. “He knew my need, and he started barking; and he rocked the patrol car side-to-side.”
The suspect looked back and his eyes widened at the sight of the barking, rocking patrol car.
“And he gave up. It was over,” said Grimm.
The community has poured forth donations for Arie’s treatment – beyond what he’s needed so far and totaling about $8,000, said Grimm.
So the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office is placing the excess into a fund in Arie’s name for medical treatment of future K-9 deputies.
Grimm expressed gratitude toward all the donors, saying they range in residency from Florida to Alaska.
What About A Rookie?
Grimm wasn’t sure Thursday whether he would like to get another K-9 partner. Arie’s legacy is too profound.
“That’s a difficult question,” said Grimm. “As badly as I want another, this heartbreak is almost unbearable.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.