Marysville police officer David Nist hopes his partner gets back in action soon.
His partner, Khan, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, is a K9 officer.
"They're like your kids, like your best friends," Nist said.
During a state certification process at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, an officer pretending to be a suspect ran from a car and Khan was sent after him. As Khan bit the officer's arm, the dog fell backward, then lay, unresponsive, on the ground.
"He was laying next to the decoy and was real stiff," Nist recalled.
Officers called a medic and Khan was immediately taken to MedVet Medical Center with an escort from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.
"I couldn't believe this was happening," Nist said.
An X-ray showed Khan had hurt his back and doctors said it did not look good.
He was sedated and placed in ICU until a neurologist could see him.
"The doctor said, 'I hate to tell you this, but he's not using his back legs like he should.' And I'm a wreck because this is like my kid, he's my partner," Nist said.
"I've had him for the six years he's been with the department. I was crushed.
"I thought we were going to have to put him down."
Whatever was wrong was not showing up on X-rays, the veterinarians told Nist, who stayed by Khan's side as the hours ticked by.
"You knew he was in pain. He never whimpered once. Never made a sound the whole time this whole thing happened. He's tough," Nist said.
Other central Ohio officers stayed with them, he said.
"All the other K9 handlers stayed there until three or four in the morning to see what happened until I told them to go home. It's like a brotherhood with the K9 handlers," Nist said.
After the officers left, Nist eventually stepped outside to make a phone call and when he returned, something amazing happened: "Khan got up and walked over to the gate and tried to get out," he said.
Khan then was transported to Nationwide Children's Hospital for an MRI, which showed a ruptured disc in his back.
"The surgeon said he had a herniated disc. When he bit the decoy, the impact caused the vertebrae to hit and some of the fluid squirted into the spinal column and basically shocked him," Nist explained.
Khan is expected to make a full recover and be back on the beat with the Marysville Police Department.
"He's almost back to himself," Nist said. "He doesn't have any pain medication. He's still on steroids to help with inflammation."
He said he thinks once Khan is back in action, things will get back to normal.
"Dogs are trained and they know what to do," he noted. "The cool thing about a dog is, they don't hold grudges or really remember things like that. These police dogs are just tough."
Khan was imported from Slovakia, like many other police dogs. Nist said the animals are hand-picked to receive training. Khan's main function is to search for narcotics but he has been used in other cases to help track suspects.
Khan originally cost $10,000 but since Nist did most of the training once the dog arrived in this country, the price tag dropped to $6,000. The city of Marysville received a grant through Union Rural Electric for $5,000 and a donation of $500 from the local VFW Post.
The investment is worth protecting, Police Chief Floyd Golden said.
"We very closely monitored his treatment and prognosis to ensure humane treatment for Kahn and to be good stewards of our citizens' funds," Golden said.
The city has not received the bills for the medical attention Khan received, but Golden is hoping someone in the community will step in to help pay for the dog's treatment.
Khan has completed his first week of a 10-week rehabilitation program. Nist believes Khan is strong and the injury will not keep him from doing what he knows how to do best.
"I think he'll be back before that, but they gave us 10 weeks. He's come along just amazing," Nist said.