COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A bomb technician with the Muscogee County Sheriff's office said he's feeling bittersweet about his explosive detection canine's retirement.
After seven years of faithful service, a 9-year-old German shepherd named K9 Ajax retired at the end of March 2014. The dog's handler and now owner, Chris Shanafelt told News Leader 9 no special ceremonies are held for retiring dogs. However, he wanted to share his companion's story to recognize K9 Ajax for his hard work.
"His retirement is kind of rough for me. It's bittersweet," Bomb technician Shanafelt said. "But I am happy for Ajax. He will be able to just be a normal dog and relax. He won't have to go to work every day."
K9 Ajax didn't suffer from any major injuries. He worked as a single purpose dog, meaning Ajax was used to solely detect explosive odor.
"During Ajax's seven year career, he completed a total of over 600 searches in Columbus as well as three different states," Shanafelt said.
Ajax was Shanafelt's first canine companion. He now looks over and handles another dog named K9 Ralph, a Golden Retriever.
"I think these dogs are like my kids, it's hard for me to say who I like more," Shanafelt said. "But they are so different. The hardest part for me was adapting myself to Ralph. Their personalities are so different, so things I can do easily with Ajax might not be so easy to do with Ralph."
When a canine retires, the handler or the canine's partner has the choice to adopt the dog. Shanafelt said he adopted Ajax, and he is proud to have the canine as a family pet.
"Ajax misses going to work with me every morning," Shanafelt said. "But I think it's important for him to rest. He's had problems with arthritis and other joint problems. He has problems jumping and moving around. I knew it was time for him to enjoy his life as a normal dog, if you will."
Shanafelt said he first met Ajax in Savannah, Ga. in 2007, when he went to the city to pick up his companion.
"I saw another dog next to Ajax," Shanafelt recalled. "She was handsome, and she looked so well-groomed. On the other hand, Ajax looked unkempt. I was hoping that the other dog would be my companion, but I ended up getting Ajax instead. I'm so glad I did. He's the best dog in the state of Georgia."