Norman Wilder spent 12 years with the same partner before her recent passing due to a non-treatable cancer.
The two stayed together through stints with the Logan County Sheriff’s office, the Charleston Police Department and the Booneville Police Department, handling hundreds of cases.
Wilder was the handler for K-9 officer “Ellie,” recently passed away after being diagnosed with cancer.
The pair also conducted scores of demonstrations and training from the local schools to Springdale and Little Rock. Far from a show dog, she was accomplished as well, placing second in a regional narcotics competition.
On the job since 2004 Ellie had retired earlier this year but stayed with Wilder. He is constantly reminded of their partnership through the now empty kennel at his home Ellie once roamed.
Wilder learned of Ellie’s cancer on Dec. 2. He had noticed a growth in his partner’s mouth during the Thanksgiving holidays which was checked.
The growth got bigger so Ellie went to see her doctor, David Holt, at the animal hospital in Ozark.
“He did the services for Ellie for free since she was a police dog,” said Wilder. “Which I appreciated. I had to put her to sleep.
“It wasn’t easy.”
After her death Wilder had to decide exactly what to do with Ellie.
“I sure didn’t want to bury her in my yard,” Wilder said.
Wilder had done that with his first K-9 officer “Obie” but has since changed residences.
Ultimately Wilder had Ellie cremated at Friends Forever Pet Crematory in Fort Smith.
“Now they actually have an animal crematory,” said Wilder.
Ellie is now in Wilder’s home featured in a display that includes a flag, her BPD badge, vest, harness and the patch Wilder and BPD Chief Al Brown designed, along with her ashes.
Holt had wrapped the animal and placed her number 505 badge on her. Wilder added a law enforcement flag.
“I ordered it but it wasn’t supposed to be in for four weeks (but) the Lord worked it so that flag arrived the day she died so I took Ellie to the crematory with her badge,” said Wilder.
He did so after a short, private send off ceremony at his home.
Wilder, who is the school resource officer for the Booneville School District received flowers from Booneville Elementary School. Junior High school students made a Christmas tree ornament with Ellie’s name and a badge pictured. Both elementary school and junior high students also made sympathy cards for Wilder.
Wilder also has a a capsule key chain with the dog’s ashes which Wilder keeps on his key ring so the K-9 officer remains on patrol with Wilder.
Wilder said he has no plans to handle another animal.
“I really don’t have time,” said Wilder. “To have this job I really don’t have time to work with another dog.”