Police canine diagnosed with terminal lung cancer

Police canine diagnosed with terminal lung cancer

By Marissa Novel

After locating 10 pounds of marijuana, 4 pounds of cocaine, nearly $20,000, multiple firearms and saving a man’s life — Lizzy, an award-winning Dutch Shepherd from The Netherlands, has been diagnosed with cancer.

Deputy James Wright, of Williamson County, and his canine, Lizzy, placed first in the overall patrol event at the 15th annual K-9 Olympics at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind. in August. Two officers from the Carbondale Police Department and one from the Williamson County Sheriff’s office and their canines also placed at the competition.

“The patrol portion of her is very strong, and that would consist of crowd control, tracking and building searches,” Wright said. “A lot of that is because of me, I’m more patrol oriented.”


Lizzy was suffering from pneumonia during the competition and has been retired since being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on Sept. 2.

Wright said Lizzy developed a cough in May. She was sent to a veterinary specialty clinic in St. Louis in early August and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“I asked them what should I do with her in the working type status,” he said. “They said to keep her at home to rest and I said that dog will not rest. She’s telling you now ‘nothings going to keep me down.'”

Wright said he competed in the K-9 Olympics three weeks later because of Lizzy’s positive attitude.

“There were a few events where I could tell maybe her stamina was not at 100 percent, but she was still able to perform at an, extremely high level,” he said.

Wright said Lizzy and her team were initially given second place in the patrol event, but a few weeks later the kennel said the scores were tallied incorrectly and Lizzy’s team placed first.

“She’s won the same award back to back years, and she did that with freaking lung cancer,” Wright said.


He said the specialists in St. Louis thought her performance was unbelievable, but more x-rays showed Lizzy’s condition had worsened.

“I had been giving her breathing treatments twice a day, antibiotics,” he said. “It’s just like having a kid. I had to do everything.”

Wright said on Aug. 27 Lizzy had her left lung removed and on Sept. 2 she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He said the doctors offered Lizzy chemotherapy but said she had three months to live.

Wright said after he consulted with the sheriff’s department, they decided against therapy.

“We can’t work her even when she’s doing chemo, so we just want to let her be a dog and let her enjoy life,” Wright said.

He said he has disciplined Lizzy less since the diagnosis.

“I’ve been grilling her chicken breast, some steak, and chicken livers. She’s probably thought I’ve lost my mind because I’m not on her as much, but I feel guilty.”

Wright said Lizzy recovered well from the surgery.

“I still get out, play ball with her and Frisbee,” he said. “You do not think she’s got terminal lung cancer.”

Wright said Lizzy had been pu chased with money from a fundraiser in 2012.

“To me, its kind of like the people’s dog,” he said. “They helped buy her and support us, and to go up and compete like that it was really such a good feeling.”

Wright said Lizzy once found an injured victim of a car crash in a field.

“He was airlifted from the scene with internal head trauma,” he said. “So she probably saved his life because he’d been missed by the search and rescue people.”

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @marissanovelDE

or at 536-3311 ext. 268.