EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Self-described as just “a guy who takes care of a dog,” Newburgh veterinarian Dr. Don Lutton will soon have to find space on his office wall for a special plaque given him Thursday by the Indiana State Police.
Lutton was recognized for his continued efforts with one of the police agency’s K-9 units.
Lutton has been taking care of Rydr, a 10-year-old Slovakian Shepherd, for the past five years free of charge since Evansville District Sgt. Kevin Brown has been the dog’s handler. Rydr retired from active service in November. Rydr and Brown had been partners for about 5 ½ years. In total, Rydr spent almost seven years working for the agency.
Lutton was already Brown’s veterinarian for his personal pet when Lutton took Rydr on as a patient. Lutton told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/1kH9cFk ) he refused to accept payment for the dog’s care from the start.
“I thought, ‘I really appreciate the work that the state police, the county and the city (departments) do, and I want to do something for them in return. I decided I was just going to claim Rydr as my project,” Lutton said as he received the award from state police at his office. “We’ve done that over the years, and he’s been a good dog. We were a little bit leery at first at what (caring) for a trained dog like that would be (like), but it has turned out that as long as we don’t say certain words, it’s fine.”
Lutton also promised to continue Rydr’s free medical care even though the dog has retired and has simply become part of Brown’s home. Brown and his girlfriend, Brooke Henry, also have a shorgi at home.
Henry joked that she’s given too many snacks to Rydr since his retirement, though both she and Brown assured Lutton that Rydr didn’t need to go on a diet.
“They’re basically brother and sister. She’s a small shorgi,” Brown said when asked how the two dogs at his house get along. “They play, carry on, normal behavior for dogs. He’s kind of taken care of her, and she’s kind of taken care of him. We were kind of apprehensive at first, but once they got to know each other, things turned out really well.”
Brown said Rydr is slowly adapting to his retired life, though he “still has the desire to go out and work.” For the first six weeks of his retirement, though, the large shepherd would often rush out to Brown’s patrol car and wait so he could accompany Brown to work.
“I’d have to take him back in, play with him a little bit, get him comfortable and then sneak out of the house, basically,” Brown said.
Lutton already has two photos of Brown and Rydr proudly displayed in his office, as well as a plaque from the Indiana State Police Alliance recognizing his work with the dog next to them. He wasn’t sure where Thursday’s honor would end up being displayed yet. Both he and his staff love Rydr, Lutton said. One time, one of them even volunteered to don the protective sleeve and be attacked by Rydr so the staff could see the dog in work mode.
“Everybody wants to touch him,” Lutton said. “Everybody wants to love on him.”