“All units stand by, Citywide 1. 7323 canine Rachel.” That’s how the Chicago Police Department’s dispatch began the final call for Rachel, an explosives detection dog who worked with the department for ten years before a sudden onset of cancer left her spine partially paralyzed. Her handler, Officer Charles Kokanda, heard the final message.
To Officer Kokanda, Rachel was more than a tool or even a fellow officer. She was a friend. She rode trains and buses with him and would wait by the door for him before each shift. She knew that if Kokanda was wearing his dark uniform, she would be brought out to do work. If he wore his blue shirt, she knew she was staying home and would wait at the window for him to come back.
“This is the final call for Chicago Police Explosives canine Rachel,” the dispatcher went on. Over the course of Rachel’s career, she protected the President, first lady, and foreign dignitaries, as well as the citizens of Chicago. “Canine Rachel has faithfully served the Chicago Police Department since June 2006. On December 18, 2016, rest in peace canine Rachel.” The call finished with the words, “Correct time is 0911 hours. This is the last call.” Rachel was put down to end her suffering 15 minutes later. Rest in peace, Rachel.