DeLand, FL – A crime-fighting duo that’s been together for two years faced some adversity recently when cancer reared its ugly head.
Corporal Chalen Godwin and his K-9 Partner, Lancelot, have been partners since 2017. The two met back when Godwin joined DPD’s K-9 unit and he needed a dog.
Godwin ended up touring a kennel in New Smyrna Beach, which is where he and Lancelot met.
“He was the first dog that they showed us,” said Godwin. “And when I saw him, I knew immediately, this was my dog.”
He said that Lancelot was full of energy, had great odor detection and a very high drive. They officially became paired up in September of 2017.
Lancelot, according to Godwin, is known as a “single-purpose” dog, and his purpose was sniffing. He says that Lancelot’s job mostly pertains to narcotics sniffing and search and rescue, never apprehension.
“He’s searched for missing kids, Alzheimer’s patients, elderly people who may be missing, things of those nature,” said Godwin.
Throughout their time in the police force, Godwin said that the community came to love Lancelot.
“People see him and they recognize the truck and they know it’s Lancelot.”
Beyond police work the two engaged with the community at schools, in events and at demonstrations.
But, come January of this year, it seemed there was a new obstacle in the road.
Godwin said that one day, Lancelot jumped onto him to get a treat following an exercise. As Godwin patted Lancelot’s back, he noticed an acorn size lump on his hind left side. Thinking that didn’t seem right, Godwin took Lancelot to the vet.
After bringing Lancelot to the vet, doctors cut out the lump and sent it off to testing. Godwin said that both he and the vet were hoping the lump wasn’t anything serious, such as a fatty lump or a deposit.
However, the test results came back in late January, showing the lump was cancerous.
After getting the cancer diagnosis, Godwin took Lancelot up to the University of Florida’s Oncology Department, as they were the only people in the area who specialized with dogs who had cancer.
While up in Gainesville, the UF Oncology Department confirmed that Lancelot had stage-two cancer.
Godwin was given two options. He could watch it with the understanding that it could come back. But, if it came back it would come back more aggressively than before. Or, they could go in with surgery and cut out the cancerous areas in Lancelot.
With the surgery Lancelot had a 60 to 70% chance of going back on duty. But Godwin decided surgery would be the best option.
Following the surgery, recovery was rough. Godwin said that Lancelot had many different medications he had to take, and he had to put a heat compress on his surgery wound for 20 minutes every couple of hours.
“I had to make sure that he was eating and drinking,” said Godwin. “It was rough.”
During that recovery, Godwin worked with the patrol division as he waited for Lancelot to get better. Patrol was something that Godwin was used to, but not without a partner.
“It was like I was missing somebody in the car,” Godwin said.
But, around the beginning of April, Lancelot recovered and was cleared for police duty again.
Godwin says that there are some checkups Lancelot has to go through moving forward to make sure that Lancelot is still cancer free.
“All the prayers and all of the mementos and all of the notes. The community will never know how much that means to me,” said Godwin. “It was so appreciated and it made me strong in a time when I needed that help.”