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Preserving K9 partnerships: Sheriff recognizes North Bend Councilman for service to police dog partners
When King County Sheriff John Urquhart asked Councilman Ryan Kolodejchuk to stand with him at the Feb. 19 meeting of the North Bend Council, he was confused.
"What'd I do?" he asked a smiling council and audience, as he walked to the podium.
He figured it out when Urquhart started telling the council "a little story."
"Canine dogs and their partners are literally like partners," Urquhart said, and Kolodejchuk nodded, because he both agreed and remembered what he'd done.
The story was about relocating the police dog cemetery at the now-closed Kenmore precinct of the King County Sheriff's Office, and about how Kolodejchuk volunteered his time, an employee, and an excavator to help.
Kolodejchuk, owner of Landwork Enterprises, said a friend in the canine division of the sheriff's office had asked him to help with the project in the summer of 2011. The 31-year-old dog cemetery had to be exhumed and relocated, since the precinct was scheduled to close Dec. 5, 2011.
Now, Kolodejchuk is a dog-lover, and jokes that his own two dogs are his "girlfriends," but the dogs weren't the only reason he didn't hesitate to volunteer.
"I really thought this was a great opportunity for a common citizen to show appreciation back to the sheriff's department," he said. "Talk about some dedicated people…"
The job, planned since August 8, 2011, and begun a month later, also turned out to be very interesting. Kolodejchuk worked with about a dozen off-duty deputies helping to remove 28 heavy headstones and the skeletal or cremated remains of about eight police dogs, and he learned some of their stories. There was Sarge, shot and killed by the suspect he was apprehending, and there was another dog whose partner was there to help secure his remains, only they couldn't find them.
"He was getting real discouraged," Kolodejchuk remembered, and was ready to give up the search. But Kolodejchuk told him "I'm here all day for you," and they dug for another hour before discovering that the dogs remains were already exhumed in a box with two sets of ashes.
Nearly a year later, Sept. 29, 2012, the remains had found a new home, at the Renton communications office, and Kolodejchuk was part of the work party again.
"Since I started this, I'd really like to see the end of this thing," he explained.
In appreciation of his effort, Urquhart said, "The sheriff's office can't thank you enough for doing that," and presented Kolodejchuk with a plaque, which he said was "…a long time coming, this is King County after all, sometimes we move kind of slowly….Thank you so much for what you did for the sheriff's office and for our canine partners."
A "floored" Kolodejchuk said he never expected recognition, and just wanted to help.
"Any time I can help you guys out, I'll be happy to," he told Urquhart.
cut: King County Sheriff John Urquhart, left, thanks North Bend businessman and councilman Ryan Kolodejchuk for his volunteer work in digging up and relocating a police dog cemetery after the Kenmore precinct office closed in 2011.