Sheriff’s office mourns loss of ‘gentle giant’

The loss of a retired member of local law enforcement has not gone unnoticed by the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office and the many people who knew the “gentle giant” — or former Auglaize County K9, Bandit.

Sergeant Mike Peterson, K9 handler for Auglaize County, said Bandit, a black German Shepherd from the Czech Republic, retired in 2012 after a long 6-year career of fighting crime. He recently died at Peterson’s home after spending two years “hanging out” and living the good life.

The county’s first K9, Bandit had been with the sheriff’s office since January 2006, the same time Bandit moved in to Peterson’s home.

“He was just a big, black dog that loved everybody. He was huggable,” Peterson said, noting Bandit was focused when time called. “He would fire up, too. When it was time to get to work, he knew how to get to work.”

Peterson said Bandit was a great resource for the county and said he would not be able to recount all of the many times Bandit assisted to the benefit of fighting criminal activity.

Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said he remembered choosing Bandit over other K9 dogs for his skills, but also for his gentle nature.

“I knew we had to have a good one, because this was our first adventure with a K9,” Solomon said. “We had to have a good dog.”

Unlike many K9s, Solomon said they never had to give Bandit extra training or time before getting him on the job.

Solomon said the community played a strong role in acquiring Auglaize County’s first K9. As there was not funding available for a K9, many community organizations donated to provide the necessary cost of the dog, training, special cruiser, etc.

Solomon said Bandit was an immediate hit at the sheriff’s office and with the general public.

“I remember when we first brought him in here, he had free roam of the place,” Solomon said.

Solomon said Bandit was a great dog to take to events to demonstrate obedience and K9 skills to the public, especially when they involved children’s activities.

“I can remember the little kids over here at the ESC just crawling all over him — stepped on his feet — he just didn’t care,” Solomon said.

To this day, Peterson said he still has people asking about Bandit.

“I have people come up to me and say, ‘Didn’t you have a big, black dog?’ That’s what they remember. ‘He was so nice and furry,’” Peterson said.

Peterson said Bandit loved to work at the sheriff’s office, but he also left time to play with the pigs at Peterson’s house.

“That’s one thing people probably don’t know, is he always enjoyed playing with the pigs,” Peterson said.
However, retirement did not always settle well with Bandit.

“Every time I’d back in and out of the car, or he’d see me in uniform, he’d be up bouncing around wanting to go, because he knew what was going on. He’d watch from the window as I drove away,” Peterson said.

He said it was especially difficult, as he was leaving with the new K9, Vegas. However, Bandit eventually got familiar with retirement and settled down to his new lifestyle.

He said there has been a void left in the weeks after Bandit’s death which is particularly noticeable with Vegas.

“You can just see (Vegas) moping,” Peterson said. “We would get home, and he would always run over and see Bandit, run around or whatever, and Bandit would jump up and see me.”

Peterson said Bandit was present for recognition at the sheriff’s office annual banquet the year of his retirement.

Solomon said he is planning to honor Bandit by placing a dedicated plaque in the sheriff’s office.