An appropriate farewell

The honor farewell to Conewango Township K9 Officer Choper and heartfelt support for his handler/partner Officer Scott Neiswonger have been incredible. My husband and I were at Choper’s funeral and it was amazing to see people of all ages and walks of life celebrating the life of a hero. Like us, there were many grieving tears shed for Choper. Yet, there are a few who could not understand why so many people attended a funeral for a canine as they have mentioned, “He’s just a dog.” That attitude hit a raw nerve with me. Doing so I feel the need to explain the importance of K9 Officer Choper and other dogs like him.

Dogs are amazing creatures; always so loyal and show unconditional love. Some of these dogs are intensely trained to serve others. They are in the Police Force, Military, and Security (such as in airports) to protect us from life threatening dangers. They assist and guide people with medical conditions, disabilities, and severe injuries. Dogs have remarkable sense of smell. They can use their noses to follow scents of children and adults who are lost or perhaps buried in massive rubble formed by earthquakes. They are trained to sniff out drugs and bombs. A dog can detect when a person is going to have a seizure and yes, even a nightmare especially one that is frequent. Because they can sense chemical changes in the human body, dogs spring into action quickly and so often save lives. We hear about Military and Police dogs taking the bullets for their human partners as they most often approached the bad guys first. Let’s face it, they run a lot faster than we can! Canines are also marvelous in situations where just their presence offers support to others. In nursing facilities when therapy dogs visit one can see the difference they make in the residents. Children with Autism increase their self-potential with a service dog; they become more comfortable doing things and being around people. These dogs go beyond the call of duty.

My husband and I have dogs and to us, they are not just dogs. They do so much for us, they are family. Officer Choper was a trained canine with the Police department and had a serious job, and he was also a loving companion to Officer Scott Neiswonger and his family. Let’s not forget how Choper died. He was in training to protect all of us, those who think of him as a K9 Police Officer and those who think of him as just a dog.

To Officer Scott Neiswonger, you were a wonderful partner and handler to Choper and thank you for serving us. To K9 Officer Choper, you made the ultimate sacrifice and you will always be our hero. When you stop to think about it, the Dog is the only species when spelled backwards, it’s God.


Rita Freeborough

Sugar Grove, PA