When a person is in great need or is going through a difficult time, a community will often pull together to help that person. There are also examples of when community members combine their efforts to help an animal in need. One such example is the case of Joker, a retired police dog diagnosed with a brain tumor. Joker is a German Shepherd who retired from his work with the Grand Junction Police Department in Colorado. In the early summer of 2020, Joker suffered a seizure that lasted for 45 minutes. Following the seizure, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The dog’s owner Geraldine Earthman, a retired officer of the Grand Junction Police Department, was devastated by the news. She had described her fear when Joker suffered the seizure and the dash she made with him to the vet in the middle of the night.
According to KKTV, Earthman did not think he would survive the seizure because it was so bad, and she knew he definitely would not return home that night. Earthman and Joker had worked together as partners since April 1, 2011. They also lived together, so they spent all their time together, both at work and when they were off duty. Due to the time they have spent together, the duo built a strong bond. Therefore, the thought of losing Joker was too tragic for Earthman to contemplate. Over the years, Joker and Earthman have shared some exciting and harrowing time. In his work at the police department, Joker has assisted in many cases, including drug busts. His work has led to many criminals being put behind bars. One of Joker’s most notable accomplishments was in 2016 when he tracked down the man who killed Joker’s colleague, Mesa County Deputy Derek Geer.
Following tests, the vet diagnosed a brain tumor and recommended radiation as the best form of treatment. The dog’s prognosis was good if he underwent this treatment. Unfortunately, the cost of Joker undergoing radiation therapy was a whopping $9,000, which was far more than Earthman could afford. To ensure that Joker got the treatment he needed, Earthman needed some help with the costs. Her only hope was to hope for the generosity of other people, so she set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise the money that she and Joker desperately needed.
Everyone at the Grand Junction Police Department wanted to help their former colleagues, and they offered their heartfelt support. Colorado Police Canine Association described Joker as a tough and sweet boy who still has a lot of fight. The police department posted about Joker on Facebook, explaining that retired GJPD K9 Joker had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The officers sent their love throughs and prayers to Joker and to retired GJPD K9 Officer Earthman. They went on to say that they love Joker and were with him every step of the way.
The Success of the Fundraising
Joker’s story has struck a chord and pulled at the heartstrings of many people, and this is evident in the amount of support he has received. Through his GoFundMe page and a fundraiser on Facebook, Earthman has already managed to raise $6,000 for Joker’s treatment. This money will allow him to begin his radiation treatment soon. He will undergo the treatment at Colorado State Veterinary Hospital in Fort Collins next week. Hopefully, this will be the first step towards the heroic dog’s recovery, and he will eventually return to full fitness.
Previous Media Interest in Joker
Joker’s illness and Earthman’s fundraising efforts have attracted media attention to the retired K9 officer. However, this is not the first time there has been media interest in Joker and Earthman. Back in 2016, NBC 11 News KKCO ran a story about Earthman training police dogs, and Joker also featured in this story alongside his fellow German Shepherd police dog, Nero. Both dogs work with the Grand Junction Police Department, and both were trained by officer and handler Earthman. In the article, Earthman described the training process, explaining that dogs learn by repetition. Trevor Hawking, a patrol officer and K9 handler, was also interviewed about the training of the dogs. He outlined how the dogs are trained to track human odor, find narcotics, and search buildings. According to Hawking, the most important thing that the dogs needed to learn was obedience. If a dog is not obedient and there is not a bond between the dog and the handler, then the handler will have no control.
Earthman explained some of the benefits for the police department in having dogs working in their team. One of the advantages is that police dogs improve the safety of the officers. However, the most significant benefit is that dogs have a sense of smell that is far superior to that of humans. While human officers must open every cupboard and look underneath everything, a K9 officer simply uses its excellent sense of smell. Later in the interview, Earthman talked about the working life of police dogs. She explained that the dogs usually worked in the police department for between five and eight years. Once they had retired, they were usually adopted by their handlers, which is the case for Joker and Earthman.
Since his retirement, Joker has happily shared a home with Earthman, and he was living life to the full prior to his diagnosis. Although he is now unwell, everyone is hopeful that his treatment will be successful, and he will return to good health. It is likely that Joker will make a full recovery, as the vet has said the prognosis is good. Hopefully, Joker and Earthman can return to their former lifestyle and do all the activities they enjoy together.