Nebraska City Police Department dog handler and Sgt. Chris Angus plays a short game of fetch with his partner of five-and-a-half years officer K-9 Jordy in their front yard Sept. 28.

Watching Jordy play with his toys and guarding them intently so no one else can get their hands on them, people would never guess that Jordy has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given only 12 months to live.

The diagnosis, an enlarged heart, has caused the 8-year-old Belgian malinois to retire early from his duties as the NCPD’s K-9.

When Chris heard the news about his partner, he was heartbroken.

“I didn’t expect for them to say that he’s got roughly 12 months to live. So that was a little hard for me, but I knew that something was wrong because I noticed that he wasn’t acting right,” he said. “It’s been difficult, but together we’ve embraced it.”

Chris made the official announcement of Jordy’s medical retirement just before the Nebraska City City Council meeting began on Sept. 21.

Chris began to notice that Jordy wasn’t acting the right when he was in his kennel at the house. Normally, Jordy would constantly circle around the inside of his kennel, spin whenever he was happy to see someone and wasn’t as eager to go to work. Jordy was also vomiting bile on occasion.

Chris took Jordy to the Arbor Valley Animal Clinic in Nebraska City in June to get checked out. An X-ray of Jordy determined that Jordy had an enlarged heart and Angus was given a referral to see a veterinarian at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

In August, Chris and his wife, Stacy Angus, a freshmen special education paraprofessional at Nebraska City High School, took Jordy to the university.

“When we got down there, they hooked him up to an echocardiogram machine and basically that’s when they discovered that the left side of his heart is enlarged and the reason was is that he had a valve on that left side that was leaking, and you could actually see the blood that was leaking out every time the heart pumped,” Chris said. “He had this distention in his stomach of fluid buildup and they attributed the distention in his stomach to the blood coming out of his heart and starting to pool in his stomach.”

Jordy’s fate depends on if his heart valve will start to learn more and how he reacts to all of the medication he’s currently taking.

“We haven’t seen anything to us to indicate that nothing’s working,” he said. “That’s our whole goal right now is to just provide the best quality of life that we can. Once we realize or see that he’s in pain, we’ll have to make the determination at that point.”

NCPD Capt. Lonnie Neeman said Jordy has been a great addition to the police department and he will be missed by his fellow officers.

“I think Jordy did a great job,” Neeman said. “But his health the last few months has really started to deteriorate and he lost a lot of weight.”

In February 2010, Chris and Stacy traveled to Sharpsville, Penn., to get Jordy, who was 3 years old. The Anguses made a pitstop in Chicago at a hotel on their way back home. While they sat on the bed to admire the view of the city’s landscape from their hotel room, Jordy stayed right by their side.

Chris and Jordy were home for two days before they both went to the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island for 13 weeks of training. Chris said training Jordy as a full patrol dog was tough because Jordy was originally trained in Europe as a Title 1 KNPV-style dog, which is a type of sport where dogs learn the same functions as a police dog would in the United States only with a few differences.

“Over there, their bark and hold is to get right up on the suspect; literally right up on their ankles or their bootstraps or their backside, bark and hold, bark and hold. Where in the Nebraska State Patrol method that we utilize typically six feet is where you want your dog to bark and hold from; it’s six feet from the suspect,” Chris said. “That was the biggest hurdle we had to deal with was getting him from going to the bootstraps and backing him up to six feet.”

Another hurdle Chris and Jordy had was the language barrier for commands. Jordy currently knows about 10 different commands and he mostly responds to commands in German, however, Jordy knows Dutch and Czech commands as well.

“There’s a few that you have to go through in the European language to figure out what he was started on or trained on,” Chris said.

Jordy is trained in narcotics detection, tracking, evidence recovery and suspect apprehension.

Jordy and Chris began working on the road together in May 2010. Jordy has made special appearances at the Drug Awareness Resistance Education graduations for fifth graders at Hayward Elementary School on many occasions throughout the years and always welcomed children petting him.

Neeman said Jordy was a good public relations addition for the department.

“It is good for the public to see that police dogs are not always mean and want to tear people apart and things like that,” he said. “Dogs are truly wonderful things.”

Stacy admitted that she and their two daughters - Taylor and Kirstin - were nervous about Jordy living with them at first because they hadn’t dealt with living with a full patrol dog before. They didn’t know how aggressive Jordy would be toward them.

Taylor graduated from NCHS in May 2012. She’s a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln  working on a bachelor’s degree in education and human sciences. She was a sophomore in high school when she was introduced to Jordy.

“My first impression of Jordy was rocky. Knowing I was about to live with an animal that could seriously injure me at any moment was a bit frightening. The day my parents brought him home … Jordy was on a leash and had a muzzle on and we were advised to be very still until he felt comfortable around my sister and I,” Taylor said. “Now, I can’t imagine Jordy would even hurt a fly. He is the sweetest, most loving dog there is. I swear he smiles and he is the happiest dog I have ever met. You would never know by looking at him that he is terminally ill.”

Kirstin, whom is a 2015 NCHS graduate, said her first encounter with Jordy was also intimidating.

“The first day I met him, I felt like my world has turned upside down,” she said.
She is currently studying dog obedience at Animal Behavior College in Amado, Ariz. She said having the opportunity of growing up in a home with two police dogs has steered her toward a career of training dogs.

“(Hank and Jordy) made me want to train police working dogs and all dogs in general,” Kirstin said.

The Angus family had to learn how to act around Jordy, such as repeating commands, not yelling at him, watching the tone of their voices, not to run when Jordy was not in the kennel and to not push him away from them if he body-checked them.

“He loved to run and jump at you, almost like a hockey body-check … but that’s just his way of playing. He liked to play rough,” Chris said.

“Yeah, I’ve gotten body-checked before,” Stacy chimed in.

Jordy wasn’t the first NCPD K-9 the Angus family has claimed as their own.

Hank, a 15-year-old black Labrador retriever, was the city’s first police dog. Hank was with the police department for for eight years and has lived with the Angus family since 2001. He retired in 2009 due to age-related medical problems, such as arthritis and eye problems. Chris said he also thought that one of Hank’s senses was also deteriorating because he began to bark at things that weren’t there or what he perceived to be a threat.

Hank was trained in narcotics, tracking and evidence recovery. Having Hank and Jordy in the house together has been an adventure for the Anguses. Stacy said Hank and Jordy definitely have different personalities. Jordy tends to be the more mischievous one.  

“We were very spoiled with Hank,” Stacy said while laughing. “(Jordy is) kind of like a toddler I would say. You have to baby proof your house a lot of times. You can’t let him in certain rooms and you have to make sure that certain things are up out of his reach.”

Now that both dogs have retired, Chris and Stacy are responsible for the dogs’ medical expenses, medication and daily care on their own. Not only are the expenses costly, but watching Hank and Jordy’s health deteriorating is emotionally draining.

Chris said the news about Jordy has made him come to the conclusion of not taking on the role of being a dog handler for the police department anymore.

“I’m officially done. I’ve been contemplating that decision for a while, especially with having two dogs, but when we got the news on (Jordy’s) immediate future, I was like I’m done,” Chris said.

Chris gave a lot of credit to Stacy for taking care of Hank and Jordy and for getting the dogs ready for work at a moment’s notice.

“There are many times for the last 13-and-a-half years that we’re sleeping and I get a phone call that (the officers) need a dog,” Chris said. “While I’m getting ready she’s getting the dogs ready. She’s got them loaded up for me to go. This is definitely a team effort.”

Chris added that Stacy got Jordy ready and brought him to City Hall Sept. 21 for the official announcement of his retirement from the police force.

Chris doesn’t know what the future will hold as for the police department having another K-9, but doesn’t predict there will be another K-9 officer in the immediate future because of the three new police officers recently hired being trained in Grand Island for about three months.

Neeman said there could be a possibility down the road for an officer to have an interest in being a K-9 dog handler, but it’s a huge responsibility.  

Chris said Jordy is a protector and very loyal. Taylor said she’s confident that Jordy would guard her with his life.

Taylor went home for a week to recover from surgery in August and Jordy laid outside of bedroom while she was sleeping and escorted her around the house.  

“He walks slightly ahead of me as if he was scoping out the area making sure it was safe for me. I believe he would never let me be in danger,” she said. “I am so glad I have gotten over my fears and have learned to trust him and accept him into our family. I would trust Jordy with my life and I know he would do anything for anyone in our family.”

Kirstin said her dad and Jordy have developed a strong bond over the years.

“Jordy has been a great partner for my dad,” she said. “You will never see a better bond between man and man’s best friend.”

For now, Jordy is on strict physical restrictions due to his enlarged heart. However, Jordy is a bit stubborn about letting his diagnosis keep him from playing.

Jordy didn’t have anything to say about his recent retirement. Instead he grabbed his favorite toy - his Kong - and continued to gnaw on it in the living room.

“He’s very possessive of his toys. He doesn’t like to share,” Stacy said. “Poor Hank.”

Taylor has created a GoFundMe account online to raise money for Jordy’s medical expenses and care. Anyone is welcome to donate at www.gofundme.com/5c2jb4qw.