DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – One of the officers charged with keeping you safe at Dayton International Airport was remembered Tuesday in a special service.
K-9 Tina died after a two-week long battle with skin cancer.
“She’s not there when I turn around, you know. When I roll my tail back from my desk her tail’s not in the way,” Tina’s teary-eyed handler, Philip Ehling expressed.
Ehling was Tina’s handler for 8 years; they were partners through good times and bad.
“There’s a sadness,” he described. “There’s a big hole in my heart ’cause my girl is gone, but it’s also a celebration ’cause she did every day what she loved to do.”
In a ceremony with close friends and family of Tina, the beloved dog was remembered like any other fallen and deceased cop.
Those gathered told stories of how the “diva” ran the boy’s club of K-9 service dogs.
Those gathered remembered how much she contributed to the safety of passengers.
“They’re very vital to keeping the airport safe and detecting explosives,” explained Dayton International Airport Police Chief Mike Etter. “When you think about the responsibility and the amount of trust we’re putting in the dog to detect odors and the bond that’s created between the partner and the dog, it’s essential.”
Sgt. Ted Priest agrees with the Chief that these dogs serve a special purpose.
He has trained them for nearly 30 years.
Priest says Tina was one of a kind.
“She can actually find and has found a training devices anywhere from 2 foot under the ground to 12 foot high,”
said the trainer with explosive detection unit.
Sergeant says she served her duty.
And like any other officer, she deserves her salute home.
“We’re attached to them. They’re with us from the time eat breakfast to the time we go to bed, You know they’re with us all the time,” he reflected.
And these officers say Tina is there in spirit.
Her bowl is now turned over to symbolize her passing, but her impact forever imprinted on their hearts.
“Obviously, I’ll have a new partner and be her replacement but you can never take her place,” Ehling solemnly said.
The department does plan to add another service dog to continue Tina’s duties.
That dog is set to begin some time in February.