A special dog leaves a lasting memory, and helps his fellow K-9’s
They work long, grueling hours in often dangerous conditions, and risk their lives to serve and protect. Because of their watchfulness, bravery and determination, Fort Worth’s neighborhoods remain safe for families and children, while criminals, drugs and weapons get taken off the streets. Most people admire and respect these noble protectors, but fail to grasp the hardships and demands of the profession. This description, while perfectly applicable to the fine men and women who comprise the Fort Worth Police Department, is meant for a different type of law personnel: the brave dogs of Fort Worth’s K-9 unit.
Joe Berry has a special affection for dogs. The owner of Winslow’s Wine Cafe, Joe named his establishment for a beloved heeler that passed away earlier this year. In memory of Winslow, Joe Berry has organized the first annual Winslow Memorial, scheduled for September 27th at the cafe. A fundraiser to serve canine-affiliated non-profits, Winslow’s Memorial’s first beneficiaries are none other than Fort Worth’s dogs-in-blue. Unlike their human partners, Fort Worth’s K-9s do not receive pension packages.
“Once a dog retires from the force, the city no longer pays vet bills,” explains Joe. “The policeman who was partnered with the dog takes it home and becomes responsible for it.”
A group of Fort Worth officers founded a charity organization, Police K-9 Support, to help raise awareness and funds for retired K-9s. In the past, Police K-9 Support has created and sold calendars to raise money. This year, they’ll get a little help — thanks to one dearly departed canine and a chance, late-night encounter.
“Two weeks after Winslow was put down, I was out walking my other two dogs, Pancho and Lefty, around 11:30 at night,” says Joe. “As I passed by a school, I heard a noise from up on the roof. I took my dogs back home, then called 911.”
As chance would have it, Joe’s awareness helped prevent a break-in, and one of the responding officers arrived with a K-9 partner.
“That night I met Officer Marc Macy with a K-9 and talked to him a little bit. He had read the Star-Telegram article about Winslow’s death and told me all about the charity, which he had taken over in 2012.”
K-9 work places extreme demands on the bodies of the dogs, to the extent that most retire at an earlier age than people would assume.
“These dogs are first responders and have careers similar to football players,” says Joe. “The type of training they go through can be pretty brutal, and they retire at an early age.”
As for the memorial fundraiser itself, Joe Berry has planned a one-of-a-kind event to remember. Tickets for the evening cost $100 each, with only 125 available. Wine vendors will have ten stations spread throughout Winslow’s Wine Cafe’s interior and outdoor patio area. Food will be provided, as will crystal glasses engraved for the occasion. Entertainment will be provided by a Spanish guitarist, while the guests-of-honor, Fort Worth’s K-9 team, will be on hand as well.
“We’ll have easels around the restaurant with pictures and stories about each dog,” says Joe. “There will also be a tent in the parking lot where officers will demonstrate how the dogs are trained to attack. One of our goals is to raise awareness of these dogs’ skills and what they’re capable of.”
If you’d like to attend the event, Winslow’s Wine Cafe will have tickets for sale on a limited number of evenings. The K-9s themselves will be the only animals at the event, and no pets will be allowed. As the first annual Winslow’s Memorial, this year’s event promises to set a standard of excellence for years to come.
“Our goal is $10,000 for K-9 Support, and we hope to exceed even that,” says Joe. “So many charity events are cookie-cutter, and we plan to do something where afterwards people say, ‘Wow, that was a great evening!’”
For updates on the Winslow’s Memorial and ticket sales, follow Winslow’s Wine Cafe on Facebook and visit their webpage at WinslowsWineCafe.com.