Wednesday, February 28, 2024


K-9 Team Lived a Dog’s Life

Chalie and Baron pose for a picture.

By Christopher South

NORTH CAPE MAY – When Charles “Chalie” McGlinn left his career as a Philadelphia police officer he took a piece of his work home with him – a living, breathing piece.  
McGlinn, who passed away Sept. 18 at the age of 80, was a North Cape May resident since 1988 after he retired from the Philadelphia Police Department. His wife, Pat, said when her husband retired, she adopted his K-9 partner, a German shepherd named Baron. 
She said Baron was already 10 when her husband retired, and the department normally doesn’t put their dogs with a new handler, so Baron followed his master to North Cape May. 
Asked about the name “Chalie,” Pat said, “That’s Kensington.”
She and Chalie sat in the same classroom in Kensington for grades one through eight, but they went to different high schools. He went to West Catholic, which was a boys’ high school, and she went to Little Flower, which was for girls. She said he might have gone to North Catholic except for the number of young men who returned from the Korean War, who had not completed their high school education. These veterans were placed at North Catholic and anyone living on the L line went to West Catholic.
“He was the last class that went to West Catholic from our neighborhood,” Pat said. 
Both North and West Catholic high schools are now closed. 
Chalie graduated from high school in 1960 and worked for Curtis Publishing until he was drafted into the army. He served two or three years on active duty, then served in the U.S. Army Reserves, for a total of 27 years in army and reserves. He served for three years as an army recruiter before being sent back to his reserve unit.
 Chalie joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1966, attending the police academy on Academy Avenue in northeast Philadelphia. The K-9 academy was located directly behind. Pat said Chalie served at several precincts as a patrolman including Germantown and Center City. He eventually joined the K-9 Unit and served 16 out of his 22 years as a police officer with K-9s.
Pat said Chalie had two German shepherds during his time in the K-9 unit. The first, Sarge, lived at the academy and Chalie would pick him up and drop him off there. His second dog, Baron, was acquired from a former K-9 handler who lived in Avalon, and he was brought to the McGlinn home to live. 
“Chalie always had a dog growing up, usually a Heinz 57, but I never had a dog until I was married,” Pat said. 
She said she was introduced to Baron in a particular way. Chalie took Pat out to a field and then released Baron and the dog “challenged” her, she said. Baron ran directly at her with his ears back and when he was just in front of her, he veered off to the side. 
“He did that a few times and then decided I was okay,” she said. 
Pat said home life with Baron was wonderful.  
“He was the greatest dog you’d ever know,” she said. “They do so much by instinct. It is unbelievable.”
Pat said when she and Chalie were home, Baron would often lie across the front door, she said, to protect them from intruders. When Chalie was away, Baron would lie across the bedroom door to protect her. 
“I was never afraid in the house when I had Baron,” she said. 
Pat said Chalie used to bring home funny or interesting stories from the K-9 unit. One day, one of the K-9 handlers was sick, so he stayed home from work. The unit called him and asked, “Where’s your dog?”
“Well, I guess he’s downstairs,” the handler said. 
“No, he’s not. He came down to the unit and stood for roll call,” the caller said. 
Another time Chalie told Pat somebody had donated a Great Dane to the academy. While testing out the dog for its suitability, it was determined that the dog could not tolerate the sound of gunshots, which disqualified him as a K-9 Unit dog. 
The academy put the Great Dane up for adoption, and a rather small man, driving a rather small car, showed up one day and asked to adopt the dog. Handlers at the unit told the man the dog might be too much for someone of his stature to handle. The guy said, no, that he preferred a large dog, so they sent the Great Dane home with the man, telling him to not try to correct the dog for a couple of days to allow him to adjust to his new environment. The next day the guy came back with the dog, its head sticking out of the sunroof of the man’s car. The guy got out of the car, bandaged from head to foot.
“You take him!” the man said. “I don’t care, just get him away from me.”
Chalie also used to take Baron to schools and senior citizens centers for demonstrations, and Baron always loved to go. When Baron saw the children, he would cry until Chalie let him off his lead and he would run to the kids because they generally had cookies and ice cream on such occasions, and he could get a treat just by licking their hands. The seniors would wrap cookies in tissues to save for Baron if they knew he was coming. 
A dog’s life isn’t all fun, however. When the World Trade Center in New York City was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, Chalie got a call from a friend who was a colonel in the army and also worked for FEMA. 
“He said, ‘Get up here – I need an operations sergeant’,” Pat said. 
Chalie went to New York City for two to three weeks, where K-9s were used in the search for people trapped in the rubble. Pat said Charlie told her that if a trained dog cannot find a living person, at some point it becomes depressed and will lose interest in the work. 
“So, they buried my husband under the rubble and had the dogs find him. When they did the dogs would be rejuvenated,” she said. “People don’t realize this about dogs.”
During their first 10 years of marriage, Pat told Chalie she felt like she was only married for five because he was working so much between being a cop and a soldier. 
His army reserve unit was activated for duty in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Gulf War. Chalie was in a Civil Affairs Unit in Philadelphia, and it was made up of policemen, firemen, doctors, lawyers, and tradesmen. Pat said after a war was over, they would go in and try to help put the country back together. Because of Chalie’s experience with K-9s they had him working in Bosnia to locate landmines – something that dogs do more easily than people. 
Pat said Baron learned that when Chalie started getting his military gear ready it meant he was leaving. When it was time to deploy for the Gulf War, Chalie came to say goodbye to Baron and the dog turned his back on Chalie.
“As a wife, when he would go out to work, I didn’t worry. I knew the dog would take care of him,” Pat said. 
Baron lived with Chalie four more years after his retirement. Now, Pat carries the memories of both in her heart. 
Thoughts? Email or call 609-886-8600 ext. 128.

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