Lynnwood Police announce the passing of retired K-9 Eli
By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Lynnwood Police Officer Jake Shorthill has had to say goodbye to longtime partner and pet K-9 Eli, a recently retired police dog.
Eli, a longtime member of the Lynnwood Police Department’s K-9 unit died on September 6 at age 10.
“Ultimately we decided that Eli being almost 11 years old and having worked a very long career in a job that requires a lot from a dog, that it was best to not let him suffer just to get another few months or year from him if he couldn’t live a normal life,” explained Shorthill.
In August, an x-ray revealed that the discs in the German shepherd’s neck had degraded and were ultimately interrupting the nerve communication to his brain. Eli did not receive an official diagnosis other than the discs were degenerating to a point that caused pain and were preventing him from functioning properly.
Just a few weeks prior, Officer Shorthill began noticing that Eli seemed to be in pain and was inactive in the yard and his kennel. He kept an eye on him, bringing him to a local veterinary clinic where he was given pain medications.
Although the medications worked and Eli was no longer in pain, he became weaker by the day, Officer Shorthill noticing that he was “knuckling”- standing on the top of his rear feet without correcting and walking on his paws. After a few days, he began irregularly falling over, highlighting a new lack of balance.
“This was very painful for my family and I to watch. I have young kids who loved Eli as much as I did,” said Shorthill. “We were heartbroken about the decision to put him down and everyone who owns a pet understands this. He was not just a pet though. He worked with me every day for the past nine years, often long shifts at all hours in all weather conditions and was very successful. I wanted to remember him this way and felt I owed it to him to not let him suffer the way he was progressing.”
Eli worked as a police dog for nine years, working to locate suspects and narcotics in Lynnwood and the surrounding community. Notable moments in his career including locating two murder suspects. According to Officer Shorthill, Eli was an amazing partner who protected him on numerous occasions, sometimes through just acting as a deterrent to people fleeing or attempting to assault officers on the scene, as his bark was enough to keep them from attempting it.
“I can say that he protected the citizens of Lynnwood and the surrounding areas by getting criminals and drugs off the street,” he said.
Eli’s attitude on and off duty was interchangeable, a social dog completely committed to everything he did. He loved his job and loved to get out of the patrol car to greet people, says Officer Shorthill. His high energy was frustrating at the beginning of his career, but looking back, Officer Shorthill says it made Eli one of their best attributes and challenged him to be a better officer himself.
As a family member, Eli was an integral part of their dynamic, acting almost like a child to Officer Shorthill and his wife, his personality mirroring one of a hyper toddler. Officer Shorthill had Eli before he had children of his own and says his wife would bring him treats regularly and always made sure he was a part of their family pictures.
‘I will miss him dearly and I know that he was only a part of my life but I was his whole life,” said Shorthill. “He was an amazing buddy for almost a decade.”