Paul V. Bodnar spent a lot of time helping train other police officers in working with their dogs, concentrating on things like obedience, agility, tracking and narcotics work.
So it was pretty rough last year when his own police dog, a German shepherd named Czak, died at Officer Bodnar's Monroeville home, according to his father, Regis Bodnar of Greensburg. The partners had spent seven years together, working for the Monroeville police force.
"He always loved animals," said his father.
Officer Bodnar continued his work as a trainer with the Pennsylvania Police Work Dog Association, and Czak is listed on the North American Police Work Dog Association's honor roll of K9 partners.
The 19-year Monroeville officer did not get another canine partner before his own death Friday of complications from the Parkinson's disease that had been diagnosed several years ago.
A Greensburg native, he didn't go directly into police work after graduating from Hempfield High School. He had a job repossessing cars for awhile and then began studying police work at Westmoreland County Community College.
The public service aspect of the career appealed to him, said Mr. Bodnar, who recalled his son starting with part-time police stints in places like Washington, Pa., Clairton and communities around Greensburg.
"One time, he was working three different places" at once, his father said. When the older Bodnar asked if his son ever got the uniforms mixed up, Officer Bodnar replied with a smile that he often worked after dark and it was hard for people to see what he was wearing, anyway.
In addition to embracing K9 work, Officer Bodnar was involved with the Monroeville Police Benevolent Association and attended numerous funerals, including some out-of-state services. He felt that first responders were part of a brotherhood and needed to be there for each other, his father said.
A writer of poetry and children's stories in his spare time, Officer Bodnar had written prayers that he sometimes read at funerals or ceremonies honoring fallen officers.
He had hoped to do more writing after leaving police work, Mr. Bodnar said.
In addition to his father, Officer Bodnar is survived by his mother, Valerie Thomas of Greensburg; his wife, Lisa Marie Bodnar; two sons, Regis of Fort Benning, Ga., and Matthew of Greensburg; two daughters, Samantha and Sarah Bodnar of Monroeville; two sisters, Regina and Jennifer Bodnar, both of Greensburg; and a brother, Daryl "D.J." Thomas, of Louisiana.
Friends will be received today from 6 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Jobe Funeral Home & Crematory in Monroeville. A Mass will be celebrated Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163-4777.
Teresa F. Lindeman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2018.