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State Police Cpl. Lowry calling it quits

August 10, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

After 32 years on the job, Cpl. Douglas H. Lowry - the man who hunted fugitives, saved lives and found the bodies of missing loved ones - has decided he doesn't want to be a state trooper any more.

The Maryland State Police department's top police dog handler retired Aug. 1.

The "high-quality trooper" will be missed, said Lt. Gregory Johnston, commander of the Hagerstown barrack where Lowry was stationed. "Thirty-two years experience, you can't replace that," Johnston said.

Lowry, 53, of Hagerstown, was commissioned by the FBI in 1998 to help search for Eric Robert Rudolph, the fugitive serial bomber convicted of the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. He's also been on "Prime Time," "20/20" and "America's Most Wanted."

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Despite all that, Lowry said it was time to call it quits.

"It got to the point where the job just wasn't what it used to be," Lowry said.

Lowry's days as a dog handler aren't over. He plans to work with local law enforcement agencies as a civilian dog handler in order to "give (his bloodhound) Joey a chance to get some more rescues."

Lowry said he knew he wanted to be a dog handler after his first high-profile manhunt in 1979. He assisted the dog team in its search for an armed man accused of killing two troopers.

It was his first time working with police dogs. It was also the first time he thought he might not make it back alive.

"It was the first time during my career where I thought 'I might not see home right now,'" he said.

After two days, they found the man's body near a frozen waterfall. He had committed suicide, Lowry said.

Since then, Lowry has saved many lives. One of his most memorable rescues occurred north of Hagerstown one cold November night 15 years ago.

A 70-year-old man with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases was reported missing from the Avalon Manor Nursing home, at Marsh Pike and Eden Road, according to police records. That night, temperatures dipped into the low 40s and nursing home personnel feared the worst, Lowry said.

When police arrived, Lowry's dog Sherlock sniffed the man's bed. An hour later, Sherlock found the man in a weed-infested field nearly a mile away, police said.

The man was against a wire fence covered in briers and underbrush. He was gripping a small tree branch that hung over him in an attempt to free himself, police said.

"It's really the dog that does all the work," Lowry said. "But the good part is knowing that you had a hand in saving somebody."

Over time, Lowry said, job duties shifted at the police department.

"There were times where I'd be sitting at my desk as a duty officer and we'd get a bloodhound call and I wasn't able to leave because we didn't have enough manpower," Lowry said.

He said the shift in priorities is what pushed him to retirement. Now, he has more time to collect cowboy-era guns. He also hopes to spend time with his family and cats Molly and Clarise.

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