By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Dogs are often credited with having the gift of a sixth sense.
It seems to be true of Kody, a 4-year-old German Shepherd who has served the Plainfield Police Department with officer Tracy Caliendo since 2013.
Caliendo took Kody out to the waterfront along the DuPage River, after she heard Electric Park was once used to get the village’s police dogs ready for duty.
But, she said, Kody took particular interest in a large rock that sits along the path about midway through the property’s south end.
“They told me it was the old K-9 training grounds,” Caliendo said. “So, I would bring him out and run him a little, because it’s open field. He’d go by the rock [and] just be kind of different.”
Caliendo later found out that her partner, the seventh K-9 employed by the Plainfield Police Department, was onto something.
“We found out that three of the four dogs from back in the 70s were buried under that rock, and nobody knew about it,” Caliendo said. “I guess before the tornado there was one of those… brass plaques that they put on there to say it was a K-9 memorial, but that blew off and they just never replaced it.”
The discovery of the site prompted a year-long project to create a Plainfield Police K-9 Memorial, which is now in its second phase.
“I just sat out here and reflected and looked at this rock, and I decided that was the time to do some kind of memorial,” Caliendo said.
At its inception, the memorial was proposed to be at the police station. But after discussion with the Riverfront Foundation, it was decided to place the memorial in Electric Park, where the other dogs were laid to rest.
The project, with an end goal of $30,000, has already captured $23,000 for a memorial stone to recognize the four-legged officers who have served the community.
Caliendo said it’s important to recognize and remember these canine members of the department, who do more than just sniff out drugs.
“He helps the public,” Caliendo said of Kody. “Just something that memorializes the K-9s so that people understand what it is that they do out here and what their capabilities are. A lot of people think that they’re just out here to sniff drugs, and they’re not. My guy, on his third day, we found a gentleman who had walked away from [an elder care facility]. It was 20 [degrees] below, and we found him 45 minutes later. Literally, a few minutes later, and he would have died. So we tracked him, Kody was able to follow his scent and we actually tracked him about a mile away.”
A German shepherd molding will mark the memorial. It won’t be on the original rock, since that rock is cracked. Instead, it will sit on top of another stone or a fabricated stone. The memorial has a Go Fund Me page to help raise cash for the project at gofundme.com/PlainfieldK9. The village of Plainfield has had a police K-9 unit since the late 1970s. In that time, seven dogs have served the community: Luger, TJ, Brutus, Blackie, Foster, Aron, and current K-9 Kody.