WELLS — All eyes were on Jagger as he clambered up the stairs inside Town Hall, his police badge clipped to his collar.

After seven years working alongside Capt. Kevin Chabot and a recent cancer diagnosis, the time had come for the 7-year-old German shepherd to retire.

Keri Chabot records a video of her husband and their dog Jagger at a town hall meeting Tuesday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

It was a bittersweet moment for the town where Jagger had become well-known for his tracking skills, enthusiasm for working and friendly visits with the community.

“He really connects to people,” Chabot said.

Jagger has been deployed 191 times since he joined the department in 2014. He has tracked fugitives on the run, found a streaker Ogunquit police had been trying to catch for years, and come to Chabot’s rescue, when a man who was high on LSD jumped the officer in a heavily wooded area.

After being diagnosed with aggressive cancer in November, Jagger had his right front leg and shoulder amputated. His life expectancy is now measured in months instead of years.

Jagger will spend the rest of his time at the home Chabot, his wife, Keri, and their two young children share with a goldendoodle named Theodore Winston and six ducks.

“We’re lucky we’re able to allow the dogs to go and live out their lives with the families they’ve bonded with,” Chief Jo-Ann Putnam said. “We know the dogs are well cared for after service to the department and community.”

A HITCH IN JAGGER’S GAIT

The Wells Police Department bought Jagger from a Canadian kennel when he was 10 months old. That’s on the young side to become a police dog, but Jagger was awesome from the start, Chabot said.

Jagger is always eager to work and aggressive in his tracking. He likes to show off how well he can apprehend suspects, having taken first place at the regional police dog trials four times.

Last spring, Chabot and Jagger were getting ready for certification when Chabot noticed Jagger had a bit of a hitch in his gait. Chabot thought maybe his partner was a just a bit overweight.

Chabot had knee surgery in July, which sidelined the pair for the summer. Jagger started favoring one shoulder.

“I noticed he was starting to have more and more of a limp at a time when he should have been doing better because we weren’t doing anything,” Chabot said.

In September, a visit to the vet for X-rays showed no obvious problems. A CT scan at a veterinary hospital showed there were nothing wrong structurally and a vet thought Jagger might have torn ligaments in his scapula.

Jagger, whose right front leg and shoulder were amputated because of cancer, chases a ball thrown by his handler, Capt. Kevin Chabot, at the Wells Police Department on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Jagger started physical therapy for his shoulder and Chabot started physical therapy for his knee.

“We were just two broken individuals trying to get better,” Chabot said. “I got better but he didn’t.”

It was November when Jagger saw yet another veterinarian. This time, an MRI showed a large mass in Jagger’s shoulder that the vet believed could be cancerous. On Dec. 11, Jagger’s right shoulder and leg were amputated and the mass was biopsied.

“They believe it’s an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma,” Chabot said. “Unfortunately, there’s very little chance he’ll make it to a year.”

Jagger’s adjustment to getting around on three legs was surprisingly easy, Chabot said, but has left him unable to continue as a patrol dog. Jagger doesn’t do well going down stairs now, but his drive to work is as strong as ever.

“Unfortunately, life takes many turns and it has taken a turn for Jagger,” Putnam said. “The cancer hasn’t slowed him down much. He’s a go-getter and still shows the spirit he’s had ever since he started.”

MAKING CANINE CONNECTIONS

Jagger will be the last K9 partner for Chabot, who says being a dog handler has been the most rewarding part of his career.

“It’s a really special bond you build with your dog,” Chabot said. “You’re going out there and trying to find the bad guy together. I’m relying on his nose and I’m relying on him to back me up. It’s unlike anything else.”

Chabot, who has worked for the department since 2001, became a handler in 2006 when he partnered with Elli, a German Shepherd. She retired in 2014 and lived with Chabot’s family until she died in 2018 at age 14.

Since being partnered with Jagger, Chabot was promoted to captain, which took him off patrol.

“This was my chance to pretend I was a cop again. As much as I hated the 2 a.m. calls, I’m going to miss them,” he said. “There’s nothing more exhilarating than getting a call at 2 in the morning to go find someone, do a mile track, find the bad guy, chase him and put cuffs on him.”

Jagger sits at Tuesday’s town hall meeting with Capt. Kevin Chabot and his son, Owen, 7. Jagger, whose life expectancy is now months, will spend the rest of his time at home with the Chabots. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Chabot also will miss the connections he made while working with Jagger. Many of the calls they responded to were to assist other departments, which gave Chabot the chance to work with officers from other agencies.

During his career, Jagger also became a fixture in the community. He went to classrooms to meet students, visited the Citizens Police Academy and made appearances at Harbor Fest.

Putnam said Jagger has been “a very good dog” for a number of reasons, including those valuable interactions with the community.

“It breaks down the barrier between people who may be apprehensive about approaching a police officer,” she said. “They approach the officers and have a good interaction.”

KONG BALL TIME

On Monday, Jagger rode to work with Chabot, as he has for nearly 7 years. Jagger’s name is still printed near the cruiser door, just under an American flag.

But things were already a bit different.

Jagger’s reward for tracking is a bright orange Kong ball, which he only got to play with after completing his work. Now Jagger gets to play with that ball whenever he wants.

In the parking lot behind the station, Chabot threw the ball to Jagger, whose enthusiasm for the game seemed unending. When Sgt. Chad Arrowsmith came out in a special protective jacket, Jagger was eager to show off how easily he could still catch a suspect.

“Good boy,” Chabot told Jagger. “Good boy.”

At the retirement ceremony on Tuesday, Chief Putnam called Jagger and Chabot up to the podium. As she described his career, Jagger flopped to the floor at Chabot’s feet.

Jagger’s name is on the side of the Wells Police Department SUV that he rode in with his handler, Capt. Kevin Chabot, for six years. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

“He doesn’t like to hear about himself,” Putnam joked.

Town Manager Jonathan Carter, who is more accustomed to presenting retirement gifts to human town employees, gave Jagger a plaque commemorating his seven years of service to the town.

When people in the audience stepped forward to take photos, Jagger was back at attention, his tongue out and tail thumping the floor. Across the room, Chabot’s 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, clapped her hands.

“That’s my dog,” she said. “That’s my Jagger.”

Now that he’s officially retired, Jagger can play all the games he wants, eat treats and enjoy life as a pet.

“Maybe he’ll have a cheeseburger for dinner tonight,” Chabot said as he and Jagger walked out of Town Hall with their family, headed for home.


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