The City of London’s fourth off-leash dog park carries with it some significance for a man who used to work in the London Police Service’s K9 Unit.
At a ceremony on Thursday, “Caesar’s Off Leash Area” at 941 Commissioners Road East was opened to the public in memory of a service dog killed in the line of duty.
Caesar was killed on Feb. 14, 1974 after trying to apprehend an armed man who had barricaded himself inside a hotel.
His handler, Robert Merrimen (pictured, second from left), was in attendance for the ceremony, and called Caesar “a family member.”
“What a marvelous park. He would love to be here, he was a sociable dog. He would’ve liked to have been with other dogs and people and to run free. Lovely.”
Merrimen told the story about the day when they were called to a hotel where a man was discussing his impending divorce with his wife when he shot her.
She survived, but he locked himself in the room, and soon Merrimen and Caesar took their positions outside of the door.
Merrimen said the man came out of the room and shot the dog, but his partner was a hero.
“He was instrumental in saving my life probably and the lives of other police officers that were there. With him being deployed, we were able to apprehend this fella, and it probably saved his life because he was there to have a shootout with police,” he said.
Merrimen added that Caesar was good at just about everything he did.
“He had this desire to please, it was absolutely phenomenal. The training came so easily because of that,” said Merrimen. “He was initially going to be a drug detection dog. But we tested him with tracking, building searches, aggressive man work, and he excelled.”
Deputy Police Chief Daryl Longworth (pictured, far left) brought greetings from the London Police, while the colour guard and K9 Unit officers also attended.
Dog parks in the city are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the week.
Dogs are required to have up to date vaccinations, rabies shots, and license tags.