OSSIPEE — He's already worked the equivalent of more than 60 human years and Sheriff's Department K9 "Edge" will keep on working to keep the people of Carroll County safe right up to the moment when a disease, not a criminal's bullet, will claim his life.
On Tuesday, Carroll County Sheriff Domenic Richardi announced that Edge, an easygoing, male black lab with a hyperactive tail, and Cpl. Brittany Perley, Edge's handler, will be "transitioning out of service later this year" after some nine years together on duty.
Later Richardi said that Edge has stomach cancer, something that was detected last month. Even though he is receiving chemotherapy, the cancer is so far along that Edge's veterinarian thinks he may only have four to six months to live.
Despite the grim prognosis, Edge is active and at his post every day, said Richardi, and he will continue to serve until he can serve no more.
"He can work and he is currently certified and currently training," Richardi said, adding that Edge's life has already been greatly extended from the three weeks he was given had he not received the chemotherapy drugs.
"What we were told is he can go up until the day, if we so wish, with the medication. It doesn't affect him like humans. You wouldn't notice the difference in him, really," said Richardi, adding that Edge will be watched closely to see if he is in pain.
Carroll County has had a canine unit for more than 20 years, the sheriff said.
On Monday, Richardi said the department acquired "Khaos," a 1-year-old female German shepherd through a grant from the Portsmouth-based Working Dog Foundation of New Hampshire and will begin her drug-detection and tracking training and certification immediately. It is hoped that Khaos, and her handler, Deputy George Stevens, will report for duty this fall.
Canines like Edge and Khaos are useful in law enforcement, said Richardi, who noted that it was important for the Sheriff's Department to have one because they're getting scarcer.
He said Wolfeboro discontinued its canine unit earlier this year, and Moultonborough's four-footed officer is getting older, just like Edge. There is, however, a canine unit at the Freedom Police Department, he said, and one in the area operated by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
Richardi thanked "the many people and businesses for their support and assistance during the time Edge has been in service," among them Melissa Seamans, as well giving a "special thank you" to Kindness Animal Hospital in Ossipee and to Four Your Paws Only in North Conway, both of which donated services and food to Edge and which have also committed to doing the same for Khaos.
"We can't predict when Edge might pass, but we're hoping to have Khaos with some sort of certification by September or October, which would be pretty remarkable when you think about it," said Richardi.
Thinking about Edge, Richardi said he is and always will be a good dog."He was pretty well-natured and energetic for sure. He'll be missed around here. He was, PR-wise, one of the best ones as far as getting along with the public, going to the local events and doing the dog demonstrations."
Edge also had that special tail which, when he was happy and that was most of the time, said Richardi, "was moving a mile a minute."