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Honoring the spirit of selfless service

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Scouts unveil service-dog memorial at Foothills Animal Shelter

By Vicky Gits

As a tribute to the spirit of hard-working dogs that unselfishly serve humanity, a Golden Eagle Scout has created a worthy monument on the grounds of the Foothills Animal Shelter.

About 100 people turned out for the unveiling of the bronze service-dog memorial sculpture on June 12 in the courtyard at the shelter near Sixth Avenue and Indiana Street.

After various participants made their remarks, the Boy Scouts gathered around the statue and removed the silver tarp to reveal the bronze replica of a German shepherd by local artist and Rotary member Pat Madison.

The German shepherd was chosen to symbolize the service-dog tradition and does not represent any particular dog.

One of the dogs profiled in the monument is police dog Sadie, a Labrador retriever who was the Hero Dog of 2011 and could not attend the ceremony because she was on the job at the High Park Fire near Fort Collins.

The 4-foot-tall, 150-pound bronze statue of a sitting German shepherd rests on a large, 3-foot-tall square base made of 7,000 pounds of concrete embedded into a foundation topped with sandstone blocks.

The memorial was conceived by Grady Jensen, 15, as a way to fulfill the leadership and community service requirements to become an Eagle Scout.

Jensen raised money for the project by persuading his father, Steve Jensen, the chief deputy district attorney of the 1st Judicial District, to run the Denver marathon and solicit $5,000 in pledges. First Bank of Colorado gave $1,000, and the Rotary Foundation donated $2,500.

Grady got the idea for the service-dog memorial after seeing a police-dog demonstration and deciding he wanted to do something to benefit animals as well as beautify the landscape.

Grady thanked his parents, Rotary Club of Golden president Kevin Nichols and troop leader Jason Pettis, among others, for their roles in making the statue a reality.

Jim Dickson of Century Bronze was responsible for the bronze work. Rotarians Bob Neukirchner and James Halderman contributed the site engineering and the stonework, respectively.

The celebrity guests at the event were three of the four service dogs that are pictured on story boards posted at the corners of the monument as a way of educating people about the four types of service dogs: law enforcement/arson; therapy; guide; and search and rescue.

Beth Fusten, who is blind, brought her black Labrador retriever, Fletcher, who is described in the bio as having an excellent memory for places. Fletcher helps Beth travel safely to various buildings in her work as a manager for an adjustment counseling program.

Recco, a golden retriever, came from Summit County, where she works with the Summit County Avalanche Deployment Program. Recco is famous for locating an avalanche victim buried under 14 feet of snow in a matter of minutes after a 10-mile snowmobile ride into the backcountry.

Recco lives with his handler, John Reller. "There were about 50 people using probes, but the probes weren't long enough," Reller said. "When they have a job to do, they are always excited to do it. It's a game of hide and seek. It's fun, not work."

Therapy dog Raven is profiled as an outgoing standard poodle who works in the Jefferson County courts, where she provides comfort and affection to child witnesses, victims and people in stressful situations.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.