Honoring Dygon

EVERETT – Deputy Dygon caught 143 criminals in his four-year career with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

In the first two weeks of September alone, the German shepherd sniffed out nine bad guys. He didn’t back away from danger.

When a suspected robber hid behind bushes in Stanwood, Dygon dove after him. Though the robber attacked Dygon’s head, the dog held his ground until officers arrived to back him up.

On Wednesday, Dygon was memorialized in a service in front of the county courthouse. Dozens of uniformed officers paid their respects to the dog, who died of natural causes. The ceremony featured an honor guard, prayers and awards.

“He never provided any complaints, no overtime and never was political,” pastor Dan Kellogg said.

The county issued a proclamation making Oct. 11, 2006, “Deputy Dygon Remembrance Day.”

“To lose Dygon is a serious blow to the unit,” Sheriff Rick Bart said. ” … The dogs we have are loyal, courageous, selfless, loving and caring. I’m very sorry (about) what’s happened. We’re going to move on.”

Dygon died on Sept. 29 of an internal medical condition. His handler, deputy Adam Fortney, returned from an outing to find the black dog dead in his pen at his Lake Stevens home.

“He’s probably the best tracking dog I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Fortney’s six children loved swimming with Dygon and throwing balls for him – even though the dog refused to fetch.

“He was one of the greatest dogs we’ve ever had,” said 13-year-old Allison Fortney before the service began.

Throughout the 30-minute service, the family stood next to Dygon’s first handler, Patrol Sgt. Scott Parker, and his family. Various officers and officials handed them several plaques, an engraved medal and, finally, Dygon’s ashes.

“Only handlers really understand what it’s like to work with the dogs,” Parker said. “You always have someone to talk to. You’re never alone.”

He said his relationship with Dygon was more meaningful than most pet owners can comprehend.

“We’re fighting together,” he said. “We’re waist deep in swamps together. The bond is much deeper.”

Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or kmanry@heraldnet.com.

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