Deputy Derek Denniston said when he walked into the shelter in 2012 to select a dog for training, he knew almost immediately that Loki was the one.
“Pretty much instantly when we started interacting with him, I pretty much knew that was the one that I wanted,” Denniston said.
A partnership lasting seven years ended last week as Jones County K-9 Loki retired from the department. At 10 years old, the department had been hoping to get Loki through the end of the year, but post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from a 2017 car accident, slightly accelerated those plans.
It took six months to a year for the signs to start to show. Seeing the partner he’d spent every day with lose his ability to do his job was hard for Denniston. While he said he’d associated the condition more with events like shootings, he’d been told by others to keep an eye out for issues that might start developing. Things started out fine, until it gradually began to affect his work. A trip to Iowa State University confirmed the diagnosis.
The pair have been working together since Denniston was an officer with the Anamosa Police Department. Denniston started with the department in 2009 and was paired with Loki three years later. The department hadn’t had a K-9 since the last officer retired, and Denniston went door-to-door getting donations to be able to pay for the new K-9.
What really stands out when Denniston reflects was the bond formed between the two.
“All of a sudden when you don’t have a dog, it’s just sort of lonely just sitting in the car,” he said.
There were also a few incidents that Loki assisted with, notably being deployed in Dyersville to assist with a man with a gun as well as a pair of drug busts, a meth in Anamosa when they were still with the police department and a cocaine arrest in Wyoming that would not have happened if Loki hadn’t alerted them to the presence of the drugs.
“Both of those stops, without the dog, we wouldn’t have been able to get into the car and make those stops,” Denniston said.
Both busts led to felony convictions.
The community support has poured in to Denniston since he made the announcement on his Facebook page, which is fitting because the K-9 program is fully funded by donations.
“The support has been just fantastic,” he said. “That’s what keeps us going.”
At their Aug. 20 meeting, the Jones County supervisors approved selling Loki to Denniston, who will continue to live with him as the family’s dog. The PTSD only affected Loki when it was time to go to work and has a bond, not only with the deputy, but the family as a whole. Denniston’s family hasn’t known a life with without the canine, as it predated his marriage and the birth of his children.
“My son’s 4 and my daughter’s 2, they just love him,” Denniston said.
Denniston looks forward to getting a new partner, which, according to Graver, won’t happen until the spring.