Front Royal officer remembers his four-legged partner
FRONT ROYAL – Boone, an East-European shepherd, was not the typical dog. In addition to being a family pet who liked to play with his favorite toy, he was a pioneer who served as the Front Royal Police Department’s first narcotics K-9.
Boone died Monday, two days after his 12th birthday, concluding a life filled with excitement.
He graduated from the U.S. Homeland Security and Border Protection Canine School in 2007, and became Sgt. Bryan Courtney’s partner. The two were deployed 1,227 times, and their 400-plus seizures included illegal narcotics and paraphernalia from cars, houses, and schools.
“He was a phenomenal partner and best friend,” Courtney said.
The two partners were essentially inseparable. After work, Boone lived with Courtney, his wife Cindy, and two kids Madison and Nathan.
While Boone could be “occasionally mischievous” at home and take “an unauthorized dip in the creek,” Courtney said he was all business at work.
“Boone could separate himself between work and family. He was a valued member of our family, and when he was at work he did a phenomenal job,” Courtney said.
Drug-toting criminals who often questioned Boone’s skills were always proved wrong. Courtney recalled once when Boone alerted for drugs, the car’s occupants claimed he merely sniffed a box of pizza and wanted a taste. Unlike most dogs, however, he said Boone was never distracted by food and “very focused on his job.” A subsequent search turned up a backpack containing “high grade marijuana.”
Courtney said Boone’s work during traffic stops often “quite literally opened the door” for searches, which sometimes resulted in seizures of stolen firearms and drugs.
The two also held numerous demonstrations for churches, schools, and Boy Scouts. Courtney said Boone became a local celebrity.
Though rare, Boone’s popularity sometimes extended to those who were about to be arrested as a result of his astute nose. Courtney said that on a few occasions criminals commented on Boone’s good looks and asked to pet him.
“Even the bad guys liked him,” he said.
Boone’s services were not limited to the Front Royal Police Department; he assisted the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, and the National Park Service.
Chief of Police Kahle Magalis said another K-9 was already scheduled to arrive in June, with the intention of letting Boone enjoy retirement.
Boone ended up, however, working to the end, and Magalis said “he found drugs just a couple of weeks ago.”
Courtney thanked citizens for what he said has been an “amazing” outpouring of community support since Boone’s death, and that he did not realize how many lives his partner touched. He said a fitting tribute to Boone’s life would be donations in his name to the Front Royal Police Department Foundation so the station could staff two K-9 officers.
Magalis said, “Boone gave 100 percent to our department and the community he served for 11 years and will be missed by all.”
Courtney said there may be a memorial for Boone, but a date is uncertain. In the meantime, a tribute to Boone sits in front of the Police Department building as his squad car is draped in a black ribbon and memorial wreaths.
Courtney thanked the Police Department for allowing him a few days off from work. Although difficult to return to work without Boone, he would not dream of taking away the time they spent together.
“It’s been a great 11 years I wouldn’t trade for the world,” Courtney said.