ELKHART — One of the Elkhart Police Department’s six K-9 officers will retire on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Xantos, a 6-year-old German Shepherd, has served alongside his handler, Cpl. Chris Snyder, for 5 years. Xantos’ last full day on the job was Thursday, Sept. 26, but Snyder will continue to work as a patrol officer on the evening shift.
Snyder said the department usually looks to get at least five years of service from its K-9 officers.
Xantos will be 7 years old this October and the graying fur around his nose shows his age.
The dog’s calm and friendly demeanor has made him popular during school visits.
“Working the day shift we do lots of (demonstrations) in schools,” Syder said.
While teachers wanted children to approach the dog one at a time, Snyder said Xantos was just fine being mobbed by eight to 10 kids at a time.
“He’s really laid-back and relaxed,” he said.
Xantos, like the department’s other K-9s, was purchased from Europe. He was born in Hungary and takes his commands in Dutch, Synder said.
He has been trained to perform a number of duties, including tracking people and items and locating illegal drugs. When he finds what he’s looking for, he is rewarded with his favorite tennis ball.
“To pick him up as a puppy who barely knew his own name, and to see him do all the things he can do now, we worked together to do that,” Snyder said.
Xantos once helped the Indiana State Police bust a drug shipment on a toll road of more than 100 pounds of marijuana. Another time he found small pieces of jewelry in an ally from a nearby burglary. He has also helped capture several burglars.
“The comfort of having him there was the biggest thing,” Snyder said. “We knew we’d be safe with him going in before us.”
Going back to work without Xantos is going to be a difficult adjustment for both of them, Snyder said.
“When I put my uniform on he gets so excited,” he said.
Snyder plans to take a week off before starting his work on patrol.
“I need a week to adjust,” he said. “Patrol is a much different pace.”
Xantos will spend his retirement as a pet in Snyder’s home along with Faith, another German Shepherd.
“They’ll probably spend a lot of time running around the backyard,” Snyder said.