NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Suffolk County Police K-9 dog will be getting a special honor this weekend.
“Chase” will be named K-9 of the Year after finding a retired East Setauket doctor following a three-day search.
The award will be presented by the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Saturday at Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram.
The 4-year-old German Shepherd found 76-year-old Jerome Nadler alive around noon Thursday in a thick wooded area in Caleb Smith State Park Preserve.
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“The dog went in and laid down next to him,” said New York State Park Police Capt. Bruce Marx.
Chase stayed by Nadler’s side until officers arrived.
Nadler, a Vietnam War veteran, disappeared on Labor Day after going fly fishing. Marx said it appeared Nadler had been in the woods for a few days. He was dehydrated and covered in bug bites when he was found.
Authorities said Nadler had been drinking rainwater to stay alive. There was still no explanation about why Nadler couldn’t find his way out of the preserve, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Nadler was reunited with K-9 Unit officers William Krolikiewicz and Samuel Barreto on Friday at Stony Brook University Hospital.
“It was good to see him today,” Krolikiewicz said. “He was alert, he was able to talk to us for a little while. We returned some of his stuff that we found in the woods.”
“I was ecstatic. I was ecstatic. This is what we train for. Twenty-five years I’ve been in the police department and this is the best day of my career,” Barreto told CBS 2’s Gusoff.
Chase was not allowed in the hospital room, where Nadler remains in serious condition.
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As Nadler continues his recovery, his friends said he is in great spirits. His daughter expressed what her father was too weak to say himself.
“This has been the event of his life. Thank everyone for praying for us,” Jill Nadler told CBS 2’s Gusoff.
“I didn’t think I was going to see a man that was going to be able to talk,” Rabbi Motti Grossbaum said, adding that he was shocked when Jerome Nadler opened his eyes, smiled and said “Hi, Rabbi.”
Grossbaum said Nadler had used some of the survival tactics that he learned in Vietnam to survive the elements in the forest but added it was his faith that ultimately pulled him through.
“This is all part of God’s miracle. The fact that he had the fishing gear on him, he had some tools that he was able to use for his survival. He had the rainwater, but it’s clearly the hand of God that led him through this,” Grossbaum said.
Nadler and his rabbi prayed together giving thanks for his survival.
“Never give up, we see from Dr. Nadler’s perseverance. He was there three nights, almost four days putting up with the bugs and creature in the forest, two thunderstorms, he pushed his way through,” Grossbaum said.
“It’s a pre-High Holiday miracle, there’s no other way to put it,” Grossbaum added.
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