After more than seven years of service, a talented and beloved Michigan State University Police K-9 has crossed the rainbow bridge. Bane the German Shepherd is remembered as a skilled officer and a gentle community liaison.
Most heartbroken by his loss is his former trainer and handler, Sgt. Kim Parviainen. The bond between K-9s and the humans they work with every day is unlike any other, and Parviainen is still mourning Bane’s passing.
A Strong Partnership
K-9 unit trainer Sgt. Parviainen always wanted to work with the trained canine officers. She transitioned from road patrol to the K-9 unit in 2014.
That’s when she met her dog partner Bane, formerly known as “Jago.”
“When I used to do ride alongs before I became a police officer when I was younger, I always wanted to ride with the K-9,” she said. “That became my ultimate goal for my career.”
Bane came from a facility in Wapakoneta, Ohio, that imports German dogs. He had just the obedience, athleticism, and intelligence for the job of explosive detective and patrol dog.
Bane was also multi-talented. Together, the German Shepherd and his handler worked both criminal investigations and performed community engagement. According to MSU police, Bane was “often requested for presentations, visits, and book readings at local schools.”
“There were times where we would get set to assist Lansing (police) for something very high stress, and then 20 minutes later we would have a demonstration with children. Bane could transition. Kids would be sitting on his back, or I’d look away for a second and a kid would have both ears in their hands, and he’d be as happy as can be.”
Bane also served as an adorable face for law enforcement during a time when police/community relations in the U.S. are rocky.
“People may have misconceptions and strong feelings about police officers, but people love dogs and Bane was the ultimate ice breaker. At community events on campus, I had more people than I can count tell me, ‘I’ve never had a good interaction with a police officer until today’ as they pet Bane. That part of his job was priceless.”
A Heartbreaking Goodbye To A Partner
When Bane stopped playing with toys in early 2022, Parviainen and the dog’s doctors could tell something was wrong. Soon, the pup stopped eating, and that’s when the situation became serious, his handler said.
“I really think that dog was hanging on for me. The doctor explained that the last decision I could make for him is to let him go to doggy heaven with dignity and not be suffering anymore.”
Before Bane died, MSU police held a retirement ceremony for the K-9 officer. That naturally made Parviainen emotional, but even towards the end, Bane was there to comfort her.
“I started to cry, and he literally started licking tears off my face.”
With Bane gone, Parviainen’s time in the K-9 unit has also come to a close. She now serves in the Community Engagement division of the MSU police.
“Letting go of the K-9 portion of my life has been difficult,” she said. “But I don’t think I could have continued that portion of my life without him.”
As Bane was like a child to her, Parviainen knows that no dog could replace Bane in her heart. Still, for those seven years, they did a lot of good together.