Baxter, a retired Tigard police K-9, dies peacefully Monday
On Monday morning, Tigard lost one of its former K-9s, one who had served with distinction at the Tigard Police Department for almost a decade.
Baxter died peacefully at 10 a.m., surrounded by love ones along with his favorite Kong toy still in his mouth, Tigard police reported.
During his career, Baxter, the German shephard who was bred in Slovakia, was directly responsible for more than 100 captures and assisted in locating more than 100 more.
In addition, he tracked several missing persons throughout his tenure and located numerous articles of evidence as well. Baxter was described as a "very active partner -- on his feet all the time" and "he was always on," during his 10-hour shifts, according to his handlers.
Over the years, his partners included both Officer Brian Jackson (2007-2010), and later, Sgt. Cameron Odam (2010 until the K-9's retirement in July 2016).
What made Baxter so special is that in 2008, he became Tigard's first K-9 Unit after a decade without one.
During a ride along with the pair in 2014, a The Times reporter followed the pair.
"He's a remarkable dog," Odam said at the time, adding that he had wanted to become a K-9 handler since he was in elementary school. "He is really good at what he does, and we are really glad to have him."
At the time, the pair were the only officer/K9 team at the Tigard Police Department. Today, the department has two K9 teams: Officer Powers is paired with K-9 Diesel, who is certified for both tracking and narcotics detection, and Officer Rivera is paired with K-9 Rico, who is certified for tracking.
But back in the day, even the mere presence of Baxter served as a deterrent.
"I have a big billboard on the side of the car that says, 'K-9.' Everybody knows what that means," Odam said during the 2014 ride along. "Baxter could just stand there, and that can de-escalate a situation just like that."
On Tuesday, Tigard police reported that, "When Sgt. Odam responded to a call on the radio and spoke into the microphone, Baxter would start to 'bellow,' announcing to all of the officers on duty that he was ready for work. That's how much of a drive he had."
When he retired, the K9 transitioned to the life of a "normal house dog" at the Odam residence.
"He may never have been a 'cuddler' or let people pet his tummy, but he loved playing with the kids and was fully involved in whatever they were doing," according to the release. "Throughout his 12 years with us, he touched many people and lived a meaningful life as a working dog and family pet. We will always consider him part of our family and grieve his passing."
(Former Tigard-Tualatin Times reporters Geoff Pursinger and Mark Miller contributed information for this story.)