LIBERTYVILLE – Storm was the dog by Sgt. Dan Patenaude’s side night or day, trouble or triumph.
Thursday morning, police forces from around the area came to Highland Memorial Park in Libertyville to pay their respects to the 9-year-old police dog that died in March. Storm, who served three years as Patenaude’s partner at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, was honored at the Northern Illinois K-9 Police Memorial.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s awesome to see he’s being recognized,” Patenaude said. “But it brings back losing him all over again.”
Storm started with the department in the summer of 2005. From day one, he was put in the care of Patenaude away from the job, too.
That makes the already strong bond between man and dog grow “ten-fold,” Patenaude said. Work or play, at home or at the office, the two were together.
Patenaude remembered one time in particular when the two were clearing a church building. They’d sent Storm in a room first to search, and they heard a big splash and clang around the corner. Storm had jumped in a baptismal pool to search for the bad guy.
“He’s one of the few dogs that has been accidentally baptized,” Patenaude said. About five years ago when Patenaude received a promotion – he now supervises the K-9 unit at the sheriff’s office – Storm retired from the department.
It’s not just Storm’s handler that will miss the K-9. Dan’s wife, Julie Patenaude, and their son, 7-year-old Cole, had grown quite fond of Storm.
Julie said she was caught off guard at how much the dog’s passing affected her.
“He was another child to me,” Julie said. “Here we are how many months later, and I still get broken up thinking about it.”
The air was mainly still during Thursday’s ceremony. A dozen or more officers brought their K-9 companions, and they lined one side of an imperfect rectangle that formed around the memorial statue – an officer on one knee with an arm around his dog – which was completed last year. Law enforcement officials from all over flooded the other sides.
A group of bagpipers played Amazing Grace. Kilo, the K-9 from the North Chicago Police Department who died in February, was the only other dog memorialized during the ceremony. Kilo and Storm now each have a brick around the statue signifying their service.
Kilo’s name came second to last as an organizer read off area police dogs who’ve come and gone through the years. Storm’s was read last.
Patenaude spoke emotionally, and with gratitude for the time he had with his partner.
“Thank you for the love, thank you for the laughs, thank you for the frustrations,” he said during the ceremony. “But thank you most of all for always having my back.”