Rosie, the Forest Preserve District's former search and rescue bloodhound, passed away over the Labor Day weekend. The 12-year-old canine was diagnosed with arthritis in early 2012, and was retired later that year after the illness prevented her from being able to take on the rigors required for search and rescue operations.
Rosie came to the Forest Preserve in December 2005 following an incident that required a tracking dog. With the reality that the Forest Preserve owned thousands of acres of land in dozens of preserves, including many heavy forested areas, the determination was made that a dog trained in scent tracking was needed. The District turned to a non-profit organization in North Carolina, Canines for Kids, which trained search dogs and the people who would become their keepers. Forest Preserve Officer (now Chief of Police) Tracy Chapman volunteered to take on the responsibility of becoming Rosie's handler. She spent two weeks training with the then two-year-old bloodhound and even drove back with Rosie from North Carolina as part of the bonding process.
During the seven years Rosie was with the District, she was never required to find a missing person on District property. However, she successfully assisted several municipal police departments in locating missing persons and in criminal investigations.
She was also a good will ambassador for the Forest Preserve. Chapman took her to many schools to explain the work of scent-discriminating dogs, and the children loved this gentle bloodhound. Rosie also attended public events where she inevitably became the center of attention. Two annual fundraising events were held for her, and people came by the hundreds to support her.
Rosie became a member of Chapman's family, and she remained with them for the remainder of her life. She would have been 13 on September 21, 2016.
"Rosie was my partner, pet, friend, and family," Chapman said. "She will be greatly missed."
In 2013, Jullo, a German shepherd, became the Districtís new search and rescue dog. Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock