- Courtesy Of Sarah Bellavance
A South Burlington police canine is taking early retirement.
Rumble is just 8 months old, but his career has been cut short by an elbow ailment. Since the German shepherd pup started in July, he has followed his handler, Officer Sarah Bellavance, everywhere. The duo trained daily, working on tracking techniques. Bellavance would bring Rumble to the office for socialization and take him home with her when the day was over.
"He loved people, loved kids. He's friendly with other dogs — he was perfect," Bellavance said. "He was super smart; I was impressed."
In October, Bellavance noticed Rumble would limp after running around or jumping off her couch. She took him to the vet, who first thought Rumble had panosteitis — growing pains — a common malady in big dogs.
Instead, X-rays showed Rumble has ununited anconeal process, an elbow disorder. A follow-up with a specialist revealed he also has fragmentation of the coronoid process, another form of elbow dysplasia.
That spelled the end of Rumble's brief career in public safety. The officer, who has another dog at home, adopted the pooch.
"I've had the dog with me nearly 24-7 for the last six months, so, of course, I've bonded with him, so I can't let him go," said the four-year veteran of the South Burlington force.
Rumble still needed surgery to repair the condition, which can be alleviated but never cured. Bellavance started a GoFundMe page to raise the needed $4,000 — and met her goal in a week. Surgery is scheduled for Friday.
Any extra cash will go to the department as it replaces Rumble with another police canine. Bellavance will be that new pup's handler, too.
Rumble, meanwhile, is taking to the easy life.
"I thought he would be more sad than he actually is," Bellavance said. "He has a dog brother at home who he really likes, so I think he's fine because he's happy to play with him all day."