The Redmond Police Department is honoring the life of K-9 Vader who passed away the weekend of Nov. 10-11 at the age of 13.
Vader served as a Redmond K-9 for seven years alongside his human partner, detective Sam Hovenden.
During his seven-and-a-half-year career, Vader had 176 suspect captures, recovered $1.4 million of narcotics and aided in the seizure of more than $1 million in currency. He retired in 2014 after turning 9 years old, which is relatively old for police K-9 units.
“Vader was an extraordinary dog, we were so fortunate to have him on our team,” said Redmond police Chief Kristi Wilson in a press release. “He will be remembered as not only a dedicated, elite K-9, but as a sweet, sociable dog who loved meeting people at community events.”
A police dog’s career depends heavily on the dogs health and Vader enjoyed a four-year retirement with Hovenden. Vader had been the Hovenden family pet for years prior and took on the position full-time after his retirement from the department.
Hovenden and Vader also shared a special bond during their work together; Vader had his own kennel at home and is considered part of the family — “like a small child,” Hovenden said.
RPD said it is “grateful for his faithful service and that Vader had such a long, happy life with his family.”
Hovenden started as a patrol officer with RPD in 1996 before becoming a K-9 handler in 2001, when he was paired with Monte, a K-9 who died from cancer in 2007. Hovenden worked shifts with Vader from 2008 until his retirement.
During his career, Vader served on SWAT, trained in helicopter deployments, did repelling operations and was cross trained for both narcotics and tracking. Vader’s favorite toy was water bottles and he would often steal them out of an unsuspecting officer’s hand to play with them, according to the press release.
Vader specialized in tracking and catching suspects and sniff out drugs. He even helped find four burglary suspects who were hiding in a closet in 2011.
“He’s that early warning device,” Hovenden said in a 2011 interview. “It’s safer to have him locate the suspects rather than to blindly send an officer. He helps keep our officers safe and he can locate suspects much quicker,” which ultimately makes the community safer, he added.
Vader was a fantastic K-9, according to Hovenden, he had an obsessive behavior, lots of drive and was very neurotic — all of which are needed for crime-fighting dogs.
But Vader was more than just a highly trained dog who took a bite out of crime. He was a lovable, playful dog who could socialize with innocent citizens, Hovenden said.
“Everything is through obedience and association of the event,” Hovenden said in the 2011 interview. “They have the ability, like people, to turn it on and turn it off, based on the situation.”