Ivan “The Delightful” was a German shepherd born in the Czech Republic. After receiving his initial law enforcement training from Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. in Sanford, North Carolina, he joined the Madison Police Department in March of 2007 — thanks to the generous sponsorship of Ms. Mary Jane Meng. Ivan spent his entire career with MPD paired with his human partner and best friend, Patrol Officer Henry Wilson. Ivan continued working with Officer Wilson through October of 2012 until retiring due to health concerns.
Ivan was an fiercely-loyal hard-working K9 who, at times, had the ability to be as gentle as he was intense. He showed the same level of tenacity during training exercises as he did when responding to real cases. One day, he continued working through a training exercise to locate a person despite being sprayed by a skunk three times! Ivan served as a wonderful ambassador for MPD through his public demonstrations. He especially loved demonstrations where his audience included children, disabled individuals, and residents of nursing homes. He somehow intuitively knew these people needed him to be a little more tender and patient, and seemed to enjoy those interactions as much as actual “police work” on the streets.
Officer Wilson often credited Ivan with “reinvigorating” his career as a police officer. While reflecting on his years working with Ivan, he fondly recalled a number of their proudest moments:
- The successful track to the location of a marijuana-growing operation in residential Madison, where over 200 live plants were discovered;
- The successful track of an older gentleman with Alzheimer’s disease who wandered away from his nursing home facility. Ivan tracked the missing man from his nursing home to a nearby bus stop. Through collaboration with Madison Metro to view their on-bus video camera footage, MPD determined the man traveled alone to an appointment at a medical clinic — and appeared to be unharmed in any way. Thankfully, the man was safely transferred back to his residence;
- The successful track and apprehension of a bank robber in Stoughton, Wisconsin (before Stoughton started its own K9 Unit). This track occurred during a windy snowstorm, after Ivan picked up the suspect’s scent through just a partial boot-print in the snow;
- The successful track and apprehension of a suspect accused of robbing ‘Red Letter News.’ Prior to the robbery, the suspect hid a change of clothes and his wallet and ID a few blocks from the crime scene. As Ivan tracked his way closer to the suspect’s location, the suspect was picked up by an accomplice and driven away – but he dropped his wallet and ID during his rushed escape. Ivan picked up another trail of the suspect and tracked the scent to a nearby bus stop. Through collaboration with Madison Metro and review of on-bus camera footage, MPD observed the suspect as he approached Red Letter News by bus. Between the suspect’s own ID and the camera footage, the suspect was positively identified, located, and arrested.
Ivan truly loved his job, and made the most of his retirement despite progressively deteriorating health. Special thanks are due to the veterinarians and staff of All Pets Veterinary Clinic for providing primary care to Ivan during his working years, UW Veterinary Care for providing specialty care to Ivan during several severe illnesses, Evansville Veterinary Service for caring for Ivan during the end of his retirement, and Madison Veterinary Specialists for providing Ivan with gentle and dignified end-of-life care. Additional thanks are due to Memorial Pet Services for creating beautiful tributes to help Officer Wilson and his family celebrate Ivan’s life and service to his community, and keep their memories of Ivan alive.
Ivan spent his final days in the company of Officer Wilson and enjoyed a few last rides in his favorite squad car – before ending his watch peacefully in Officer Wilson’s arms. He is already missed beyond words.