Book raises $10K for K-9s

K-9 Abel sits for a photo alongside his handler and partner, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey M. Froelich. Provided photo

WATERTOWN — From playful pup to a K-9 with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, K-9 Abel’s story has spread near and far, selling thousands of copies worldwide and raising funds to help protect fellow dogs in the line of service.

His human partner, Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey M. Froelich, decided to write it all down one day in the form of a children’s book, told from Abel’s perspective: “I Am Abel.”

The story follows Abel’s experience from being selected by Deputy Froelich at the Sheriff’s Office to beginning his journey and training to become a certified K-9 in New York.

The book officially launched on Oct. 22, 2020. Since then, the book has sold several thousand copies worldwide and is all over the internet now.

“Its kind of a big shock, I didn’t expect it to do as well as it did,” Deputy Froelich said. “When it showed up on Amazon, that was really neat. Then it got picked up by walmart.com and target.com as well. I really felt like I hit the big time when BarnesandNoble.com picked it up too.”

He said the best part is talking to kids, when one comes up to him and says they love the book.

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to Protecting K-9 Heroes, a nonprofit organization that provides protective vests and K-9 first-aid kits to handlers and their dogs across the country, free of charge. It even provided Abel with his vest and first-aid kit, as well as another dog in the unit, so this is a way for Deputy Froelich to do something for the organization in return.

“It did a lot better than we ever thought it would,” he said. “I was just trying to make a couple hundred bucks for charity, but we’ve made about $10,000 in profits in a year — not bad for a kids book.”

Abel, a Belgian Malinois, was born in Ontario, Canada, on March 12, 2016, and joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit in March 2017. A dual-purpose K-9 trained and certified in patrol tracking, including suspect apprehension and K-9 handler protection, Abel is also trained and certified in advanced narcotics detection. When he’s off duty, he lives at home with Deputy Froelich, his wife Dori, and their teenage son Evan.

“He’s kind of famous now,” Deputy Froelich said. “If I’m around my police car people say, ‘Oh, is that the dog the book is about?’ Yep, sure is.”

Deputy Froelich sent out a series of messages to friends and family letting them know the book was available when it launched last year, including to a representative from the North Country Kennel Club, which provided the funding to buy Abel for the county. Deputy Froelich said he has kept in touch with the club through the years and personally thanked the organization in the book.

The North Country Kennel Club invited Deputy Froelich to the club’s meeting Wednesday night to do a book signing and demonstration with Abel. Always community-based, the club has helped with donations to various causes, including securing oxygen masks for the dogs of local volunteer fire departments and at one point helping supply every K-9 in the Watertown area with vests.

“I’m kind of indebted to them, and any time they ask for anything I try to repay that to show gratitude for all that they’ve given us,” Deputy Froelich said. “Without them and their generous donations, Abel wouldn’t have been with me.”

Scott G. Thackston, president of the North Country Kennel Club, said he is going to bring his granddaughter to the meeting so she can have her book signed — and pawprinted by Abel — and see the demonstration of the K-9’s skills. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Francis X. Caprara Exhibition Hall and is open to the public.

Deputy Froelich said that every once in a while, he’ll go on Amazon and read some of the many positive reviews of the book. In the six weeks preceding Christmas last year, it was the No. 1 bestseller in the children’s genre on Amazon.

Although he’s been asked before and has considered the possibility, Deputy Froelich said there are no plans for a sequel or new book at this time.

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster ride. The best part is meeting the kids, people who bought the book and really fell in love with it,” Deputy Froelich said. “It’s just neat to see that people all over the country, all over the world are buying it. You could buy it for 1,931 rupees in India right now. When you see that you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s my book.’”

He said support for the book has been great, especially locally. Last year, he had people buying up to 10 books at a time to give out as Christmas presents, and more are doing the same this year.

Deputy Froelich said that thanks to all the support, there are a lot of happy K-9 handlers and dogs across the country that now have the safety equipment they need to go out there and do the job safely.

“It was never about me making any money, I haven’t made a penny,” Deputy Froelich said. “I just sign the checks when they come to me over to the charity because its always all about the dogs for me.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

suzanne phillips

Many thanks Deputy Sheriff Froelich and K-9 Abel for your service. I LOVE the intent look of awareness of his surroundings that Abel has as he is being photographed. And thank you Deputy Froelich for providing such a great source of income to provide many invaluable service canines with protection gear. ..not to mention letting little children love and understand the service dogs like Able perform.

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