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Smith: A translator, please, to the sales counter

  • Utz was credited with helping persuade hundreds of suspects to surrender when he worked for Santa Rosa's police department from 2004 to 2013. (Kevin McCallum / PD)

Carol Guanella came home from the bookstore with her head still shaking.

She'd gone to the Barnes & Noble in downtown Santa Rosa to buy a friend a gift of the book on the historic victories and principled sacrifices of the University of San Francisco's 1951 football team.

Guanella had written down the name of the author and the title: Kristine Setting Clark, “Undefeated, Untied, and Uninvited.”

The mother and grandmother approached a young sales associate, told her she was looking for a particular book and handed her the paper.

“She looked at the note,” Guanella said, “and she said, 'You'll have to read it to me. I don't read cursive.'”

K-9 OFFICER 'UTZ' was retired from the Santa Rosa Police Department last summer with a heap of hugs and pats and atta-boys for serving nine years with great distinction.

In August the City Council honored the personable Belgian Malinois for persuading many suspects to surrender and helping to sniff out about 500 pounds of illegal drugs.

Officer Patrick Gillette, Utz' partner, was astounded that the dog could go from nuzzling kids at a school visit to striking terror in a suspect previously intent on fighting or running from the police.

“He was amazing,” Gillette said. “He was one of the more sociable dogs I've seen that can do that kind of work.”

In retirement, Utz became the Gillettes' dog.

Today the family is grateful but heartbroken. Utz had to be put down by a vet after he fell so terribly ill that aggressive attempts to save him didn't bring him around.

That dog made life safer for his patrol partner and an entire city. Good boy, Utz.

GRAFFITI AND GONE: Neighbors in Santa Rosa's historic Burbank Gardens district awoke Saturday to a disheartening sight.

Apparent gang tags, lots of them, defaced the long and lovely mural that's been largely respected by taggers since an ambitious effort created it in 2010 on a fenceline along Maple Avenue.

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