It was nice to have an evening to sleep in my own bed and I was very excited to bring the monument to State Farm Corporate Headquarters. We had a tremendous showing of suppoort even though it rained. Shane Arndt and K-9 Rusty, an arson canine team with the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office were the first to arrive. He was followed by his boss, Illinois Fire Marshal Larry Makaitis. The crowd started rolling in despite the fact that it looked like it would dump rain any second. State Farm Public Affairs Vice President David Beigie welcomed everyone and then we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Rose’s arson dog Tana who celebrated her third birthday today.
We had quite a few kids at the stop as well and Jerry did a demonstration of what Sadie could do. He put a small drop of gasoline on a group of kids that were standing in a line-up. Sadie walked past the kids and immediately sat at the foot of one little boy who had the drop on his shoe. The kids and their parents got the biggest kick out of it.
After three hours at State Farm Corporate, it was time to drive to our next stop in Chicago. Austin has been giddy about the Chicago stop because he was born there (actually in Hinsdale, IL). He has idolized the Chicago Fire Department since he was a kid and became a firefighter because of his pride in the CFD. We had three more arson dog handlers show up at the Chicago stop: Officer Jack Barba and K-9 Zoe with the Bensenville Police Department; Arson Investigator Mitch Kushner and K-9 Raider with the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office; and Arson Investigator Kenny Arnold and K-9 Ellie with the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office (Ellie wasn’t in attendance because she was at the vet). We also had Illinois Fire Marshal Larry Makaitis again. Talk about dedication – he came to all 3 Illinois stops for the NFDM Road Show!
The emotional moment of the day was when Mitch Kushner brought the ashes and collar of his first K-9 partner, Nikki, and placed them at the base of the fire dog monument. It was a perfect moment. Fire Marshal Makaitis also had arranged a special trip for Austin to Chicago Fire Department Station 18. Austin was beside himself! After the visitors had left, our Chicago Public Affairs Specialist Lisa Ladonna Cooper ran out and got us our last memory of the day – Chicago-style hotdogs.