By BONNIE WILLIAMSON
Special to the Spirit
CHARLES TOWN – Nine years ago Hyde, the brown Labrador retriever, memorably took the wrong bite out of crime.
While interviewing to join Charles Town’s police force, the dog chomped the hand of his future patrol partner and handler.
“He didn’t break the skin,” Cpl. Jason Newlin recalled, laughing. “He was just showing dominance. He thought I was a threat to him. He didn’t know me.
“He turned out to be a big baby—a loving dog who always wants to be with you.”
Since that day he and Newlin first met in April 2013, Hyde has helped sniff out illegal drugs thousands of times in Jefferson County and in several surrounding jurisdictions.
The K-9 officer is trained to sit when he smells narcotics. His police work is rewarded with a fun game of tug.
“He is also very fond of chicken nuggets,” Newlin offered.
Now graying around his muzzle, Hyde’s career faded into retirement last week not long after he was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips.
“I noticed it was getting harder and harder for him to get in and out of the car,” Newlin said. “It was time. He’ll be 10 years old in August.”
On Monday, police Chief Chris Kutcher formally recognized and thanked the pup for his dedicated service.
“Hyde will be greatly missed,” the chief said. “I often say he’s one of our best employees.”
Hyde will be spending his retirement years comfortably at home with Newlin’s family.
“It will be a tough transition for him at first,” Newlin predicted, “especially when he sees me leave home in my uniform. But he’ll have plenty of playtime and attention.”
Kutcher said the city’s police department eventually plans to replace Hyde with another K-9 officer, although the timing of the replacement hasn’t been decided yet.
Newlin said he won’t take part in that. Another patrolman can take on that role. He’ll still have Hyde and won’t be seeking another four-legged professional partner to replace him.