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Charles Town Police dog dies

January 16, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - For years, Eiko, a German shepherd, had the distinction of being Charles Town's first police dog as he rode on patrol with his partner, Charles Town Police Sgt. R.J. James.

Eiko once tackled a police officer being kicked by a suspect and on another occasion went to the aid of a teenage girl who had been sexually assaulted and then tracked down her attacker.

But the dog was probably best known to thousands of Jefferson County school children who watched him perform at demonstrations. "He was a ham when it came to showing when it came to showing off for the public," James said.

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Eiko, who was nearly 10 years old, died Monday. He was buried in a small casket at Rosedale Cemetery in Berkeley County. The cemetery has a program to bury police dogs for free, James said.

"He was a police dog but he also was my best friend," James said.

For years, James had urged the formation of a canine unit because the police officers were having to call in dogs from other departments to help in drug searches. Eiko, who joined the department in 1990, cost Charles Town $7,000, including the cost of training. An old cruiser was put back into service and fitted with a cage for the dog.

James said Eiko was highly unusual because he was successfully trained to handle patrol work, sniff out drugs, and perform search and rescue hunts. Most police dogs are trained to specialize in one area, and some unusual dogs can perform in two of the areas, but Eiko always scored 100 percent in training for all three areas.

During a drug raid soon after Eiko joined the department, James and Eiko were called in to search for crack cocaine in a home.

Other officers had searched over the area, but had not been able to find the drugs, James said.

Eiko picked up the scent and found about $14,000 worth of crack cocaine hidden in the frame of recliner chair on a specially built shelf, James said.

On another occasion, James was called to backup an officer in nearby Ranson, W.Va. In the apartment, the suspect was striking the officer with a series of karate kicks.

James said he turned Eiko loose and the dog immediately charged the attacker and flattened the suspect.

In his prime, the dog weighed 98 pounds of muscle and fur.

"He had a lot of force behind him," James said.

The dog also could be protective of others.

James said that he once stopped in a field near the old livestock pens to let Eiko out to relieve himself.

Instead of staying nearby, Eiko took off running across the field. James said he cursed the dog, thinking he would have to search for the dog.

But the dog began to bark for him incessantly. James said he grabbed his flashlight and went across the field.

He found Eiko standing protectively near a 14-year-old girl. The girl was crying because she had been sexually assaulted.

After finding the girl, Eiko followed the attacker's trail to the Charles Town Race Track, James said.

When the officer and dog came to an area where there were people, two security guards pointed out a man who had just passed through the same spot, James said.

The suspect was caught and Eiko's role in the man's capture came out in court, James said.

Eiko was replaced by Fanto, a 3-year-old German shepherd who also works with James.

Eiko continued to live with James and the two dogs got along well, James said.

But when it was time for James to take Fanto to work, Eiko would act jealous that he could not go, James said.

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