Tuesday marked one year since Boynton Beach Police Officer Joe Crowder died suddenly while out for an evening run. The beloved K9 officer not only left behind a family, including two young sons, and brothers in blue, he also left behind two K9s. He had a retired K9 named Daxxx, and a new K9 named Iro.
Crowder only worked with K9 Iro for a short time, so he was reassigned to another officer, Officer Chris Schalk. Schalk says he always wanted to be a K9 officer.
“I didn’t want it to happen that way, nobody would,” he said.
Schalk says he feels like he has a piece of Joe (Crowder) with him all the time. He partners with his dog and also drives his former patrol car. “Initially it was very hard,” he says. He adds, “I can’t really put it into words. Every time we train or we have a call where we have to use the dog… I just do the best I can, hope I make him proud.”
Fellow K9 Officer Mark Sohn took in Crowder’s retired dog, Daxxx. Daxxx and Crowder worked together for years until he had to retire for health reasons. Sohn already had two police dogs of his own at home, retired K9 Hutch and his current partner Baco.
After Crowder’s death, the dogs were being boarded for the time being when Sohn and his wife went to visit and checked on how Daxxx was doing. He says, “he (Daxxx) picked up his leash with his mouth and walked over to my wife and we looked at each other like we gotta take care of him.”
Sohn says it was a tough transition at first, bringing Daxxx into a new home with a new family. He says, “I believe there was definitely a change in his behavior. I think there was a little bit of.. depression, and he was still very much that Daxxx, man of a dog, K9 mentality that I used to see with Joe.”
But he says now, Daxxx has softened up, knowing he’s no longer with his partner and on duty.
He says, “It’s been an honor, been a daily reminder of Joe. And I think if the roles were reversed he would do it for me.”