Retirement, family life suit K9 Bosco just fine
Former RPDPS living with handler and adjusting well to life after police work and amputation of limb
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By Natalie Gray  April 11, 2014 12:00 am

Bosco is in recovery. He just had his right leg and shoulder amputated in a fight against bone cancer, which surgeons feared could have spread to his lungs without the amputations.

He is bracing for his third round of chemotherapy. Bosco is 10 years old but seems to be recovering fine. According to his family, he still has energy to run around, play fetch and hardly even notices he’s missing one of his four legs. 

Bosco is, of course, a dog. He’s a Belgian Malinois to be exact and a former K9 officer for the Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety. If you were to ask Joel Walter, Bosco is more than a K9 dog and Walter is more than Bosco’s owner and former handler.

 

Heart-wrenching battle

“It’s heart wrenching,” said Walter of watching Bosco fight through his cancer. “There is so much I want to do for him because I know there is so much he would do for me. He was my partner.”

Walter and Bosco served as a K9 team for Rohnert Park for years and retired within a year of each other. According to Walter, Bosco was always a friendly dog and always seemed content with being a working dog. As part of his K9 duties, Bosco would visit schools with Walter, where, according to Walter, he was always very calm about children petting and storming him. When Bosco retired his collar badge three years ago, he continued to live with Walter and Walter’s family where he is reported to be rather content with being a family dog. 

Bosco was diagnosed with cancer in January and had his right leg and shoulder amputated on Valentine’s Day. 

 

Surgical precaution

According to Walter, the cancer had settled into the bone of Bosco’s leg, but his shoulder was removed in the surgery as well, both to make the transition more comfortable for Bosco and also to better insure the chance of the cancer not spreading further into his body. Dr. Lisa Alexander of the Animal Care Center performed the surgery.

“She’s done so many of these surgeries, she knows what she’s doing,” said Walter. “She’s gotten it (surgery) so that it is comfortable for the dog…(Bosco’s) really been able to bounce back after surgery.”

The amputation, recovery and chemotherapy did not come without some complications, though. The treatment for Bosco is costing the Walter family more than $17,000. To help offset some of the damage, the community has stepped up to help serve the dog that served it for so long as a K9.

 

Where to donate

Bosco has a profile on Giveforward.com, where volunteers, friends and community members can donate to his medical funds. On this site, Sharon Walter has given short and sweet updates on Bosco’s recovery along with accompanying photos of Bosco during his recovery (such as post-Bosco surgery getting a hug and kiss from Walter). According to the webpage, the Walter family’s goal was to raise $6,265. The site has raised $6,485 with donations. 

Bosco is also active on coveryyourk9.org for the “Go to Bat for Bosco Fundraiser.” Cover Your K9 is a webpage dedicated to working dogs, either serving their community for the local police force or in the military. 

According to the webpage, Bosco has raised $7,500 of a $9,000 goal.

“It’s been fantastic to see the community has stepped up for Bosco,” said Walter.

 

Funds to Cover Your K9

Walter says all extra funds raised on behalf of Bosco will be donated to Cover Your K9 to help supply working dogs with stab- and bullet-proof vests. Walter also said Bosco is undergoing tests and new treatments that, should they prove successful, could be used on children with the same form of cancer.

“Even now, he’s still giving back to the community,” said Walter.

Bosco is on the mend and is adjusting to his new three-legged life very well. According to Walter, he can still be an intimidating guard dog when he wants to, but quickly and eagerly melts into hugs and cuddles. His dosage of chemotherapy is low enough that he does not get nauseous or lose his fur and, at this point, seems to be on his way to a full recovery. 

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