There's no harder working dog than a police K-9, and one canine cop with the Lake County Sheriff's Department is in the running for top dog in the country.
Deputy John Forlenza's furry partner Dax already beat out thousands of others to make the top ten of the 2018 K9 of the Year Award, and is now in the running to win.
"We just clicked from the start," Deputy Forlenza remembers. "He walked out... jumped up and actually hit me in the face with his big old head and busted my lip open."
It's hard to describe the bond between the two officers, who've been connected at the hip every day for the last four years.
"Out there on the street everybody knows John and Dax," said Officer Dan Ruth, Gurnee Police Department.
"With him I always say that he's special. I've seen thousands of dogs but we had a good relationship from the start," Forlenza said.
They've also earned a reputation as one of the best tracking teams out there, finding more people than perhaps any dog around.
"I've never seen a dog track like Dax before," Ruth said. "Over 25 years where I've been working with dogs he continues to amaze me, where instinctively I'm like how does he do that?"
Which got Ruth thinking about all those finds — and this thing called the K9 of the Year Award. Sure enough, shortly after he made the nomination, Dax and john quickly rose to the top ten while standing out for all those saves.
"He loves going out and finding people, whether that be felons, a missing elderly person or missing child," Forlenza said. "When you have time to sit down and think about it, it's really awe inspiring work that makes you realize how special he is."
It will be weeks before we know if Dax and john win the award, but if you ask the guy he spends every minute with, Dax was always his top dog.
If you want to cast your vote for Dax online, you have just until midnight Monday.