September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs
The 1989 film “K-9” featured James Belushi as Mike Dooley, a narcotics cop who has been assigned to choose a canine partner from the K-9 unit’s training facility.
He chooses a German Shepherd that he names Jerry Lee, after the legendary rock and roll singer Jerry Lee Lewis, because like the singer, the Shepherd looks like a bit of a “bad boy”. This new canine partner may be smart and effective, but half of the fun of the film is that he’s also playfully destructive. The story turns into a “buddy film” when the two bond as they go after drug dealers.
In reality, three German Shepherds were used in the film. The main dog actor was Koton, who was actually a working police dog in Kansas City, Missouri. He was born in 1983 and had an illustrious career with the narcotics unit in Kansas City, credited with at least 24 major felony arrests. He was chosen because he seemed a natural to play a narcotics-sniffing dog. The only problem was that by nature he was very dutiful and serious about his work and had to be taught to be more troublesome for the film.
Two doubles were used in the film, as well, and they had been brought to the United States from Germany. Ironically, at first they only understood German commands, and had to be taught English to work properly in the film. One of the doubles, Rando aka Rondo, went on to do a TV movie in 1991, based on the K-9 character. It was a big break for him, sadly made possible because after the movie was shot, Koton returned to active duty in the narcotics unit in Missouri. One day in 1991, he found 10 kilos of cocaine worth 1.2 million dollars – a huge success story for the Kansas City Police Department.
Unfortunately, 10 days later, when he was only 8 years old, Koton was at work chasing a suspect who’d killed a police officer. The suspect shot Koton, who passed away at the scene. It was a tragic end to the short life of a brave Shepherd who’d not only served the police for years, but had a brief but memorable time in the public eye as the lovable Jerry Lee.