By Sue Botos
(Reporter’s note: Soon after the Nov. 13 issue of West Life, which featured a story about Rylo’s upcoming retirement, was sent to press on Nov. 12, I was notified by Patrolman Garth Selong that his partner of 10 years had to be euthanized earlier that day.)
During a recent interview, K-9 Patrolman Garth Selong predicted that his partner Rylo’s body would give out before his spirit would. Although the dog seemed to be having some trouble walking, due to a combination of age and work-related wear, he bounded up to a visitor.
Unfortunately, Selong’s prediction came true recently. Rylo, the 10-year-old German shepherd who was the city’s first K-9 patrol dog, was euthanized on Nov. 12 due to complications from compressed disks in his spine.
Selong and Rylo began the city K-9 unit, which is run almost solely on donations, 10 years ago. The patrolman had said, after Rylo’s retirement, that he would not get another dog and would go back to a regular squad car.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I don’t second-guess that decision,” Selong said. He added that the dog’s hind legs “just gave out on him,” after being diagnosed with compressed disks several weeks ago.
“He was my dog as well as my partner. He was a dog first and a policeman second,” Selong said. “He was always so excited to play. His natural instinct to fetch made him a good police dog,” Selong added, noting that Rylo knew when he was on duty, and when he was “just being a dog” and a member of Selong’s family. He said that his partner especially loved children and enjoyed visiting schools.
Rylo’s career outlasted three other city police K-9s, and saw the start of work for Diego, 8 months, and newest arrival Apollo, 8 weeks.
“He set the tone for the K-9 unit,” remarked Chief Kelly Stillman. “He was exemplary of what a K-9 is all about. He was a fantastic ambassador and a good police dog.”
City Council President Jim Moran agreed. “Rylo set a high bar. He was a great representative of the city.”