Sheriff’s Department prepares to say farewell to Deputy Diesel

Published 9:52 am Monday, October 27, 2014


It is always hard to say goodbye, and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department is preparing to say farewell to one of its most beloved officers — K9 Deputy Diesel.
Diesel retired from service after a resolution passed Monday by the Carter County Commission. His retirement comes as he battles health issues. The county granted custody to Diesel’s longtime handler and partner, Deputy Dave Ryan, who is caring for the dog.
“It’s been about two weeks now,” Ryan said. “He was limping real bad. I thought he had sprained his knee.”
Ryan said he let Diesel rest at home but that his condition did not improve, so he took him to his veterinarian, Dr. Ric Jablonski at Roan Mountain Animal Hospital. Jablonski diagnosed Diesel with an aggressive form of bone cancer.
Diesel is resting at home, no longer going to work with his partner every day. Ryan said Jablonski was not able to tell him how much longer Diesel will live.
“I’m not going to let him suffer. I’m not going to be selfish,” Ryan said. “This has just ripped my heart out.
“People say it’s just a dog, but he’s not. He’s my family,” he added.
During this ordeal, Ryan said Jablonski, who provides veterinary services not only to the Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 unit but also to the Elizabethton Police Department’s two K-9 units, has been helpful to him, making sure Diesel is comfortable and receiving the care he needs.
“He’s a top-notch guy,” Ryan said. “The whole staff up there has been wonderful.”
Ryan became Diesel’s handler six years ago, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
At first, the duo worked in the patrol division for the Sheriff’s Department, but a couple of years ago, the department reassigned them to the School Resource Officer program.
“You may make a difference in a kid’s life,” he said. As for Diesel, Ryan said he loves kids and loved working in the schools.
Ryan said Diesel loved doing police dog demonstrations at the schools and for community groups. “He would show off for the kids,” he said. “He loved kids. He would let them pet him and even pull on his ears, and he never barked or offered to snap at them.
“Diesel touched a lot of kids,” he added. “He was such a ham at these demos. He loved having his picture made.”
Ryan even had special stickers made to hand out to the children he and Diesel encountered. “They had a paw print on them, and they said ‘Diesel’s Pals,’” he said.
Working with Diesel has provided some fond memories for Ryan. He recalled once when he was eating dinner at a local restaurant a small boy at a nearby table kept staring at him, so he waved.
“He finally walked over and he said ‘Hey mister, aren’t you Diesel’s daddy?’” Ryan said as he laughed. “I said, ‘Yes, I am. I’m his daddy.’”
Another occasion Ryan fondly recalled came when he and Diesel received an unexpected surprise after visiting a local church.
“We did a demonstration at Zion Baptist Church,” he said. “They bought him a bulletproof vest, those kids did. His cost more than mine did.”
After years of working together, Ryan said it has been difficult going to work and leaving his partner behind.
“That car gets awful lonely,” he said. “I keep looking in the rearview mirror and expecting to see him standing in the back seat.”

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