By Ed Harris
Southington Police K-9 officer Damon is retiring to the home of his handler Officer Stephen Salerno after lodging almost a decade on the job.
Damon, a 12-year-old German Sheppard, officially retired at the end of last month. The dog began working with the department in November 2004.
“He had a fantastic personality for this job,” Salerno said, describing Damon as being good with people and eager to work. “It was my honor to be able to work with him. I was lucky. I got a good dog.”
Salerno said Damon loved to track, a trait that helped out on more than a few cases. Salerno specifically remembered two cases where Damon was required to track down a suspect, once during a robbery and another time following a domestic dispute. Damon found the suspect both times.
“That was our bread and butter,” Salerno said of Damon’s tracking skills.
Now retired, Damon, who has arthritis, will live with Salerno and his wife. Salerno said Damon is still getting used to retirement. He said Damon is constantly underfoot when he puts his uniform on for work and is waiting to go out on the job with him.
“It’s difficult for him to adjust into retirement,” Salerno said.
The Salerno family has two other dogs, a one-year-old female Rottweiler named Sasha and Lou, a three year old German Sheppard, which, like Damon, is from Czechoslovakia.
Lou is Salerno’s new K-9 partner. Salerno said he began asking if he could have another dog once it began to look like Damon would be nearing retirement. Lou is currently in the beginnings of a multi-week course centered on teaching tracking, search, evidence recovery and narcotics skills.
“I’m thankful to get the opportunity again,” Salerno said.