Police & Fire

Somerville: K9 Children’s Book Author Donates Proceeds to Buy Protective Vest for K9 Basilone

5b8a605bd452985092b4_sompixK9basilone2.JPG
K9 Basilone. the newest member of the Somerset County Sheriff's Department. Credits: Rod Hirsch
0ddf454d79ab65eea160_sompixK9book.jpg
Sales of "The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog" children's book are used to purchase armored vests for K9 police dogs. Credits: Courtesy Big Dog Books
557c1c14ccabf1a38035_sompixK9basilone1.JPG
Somerset County Sheriff's Officer Shannon Dinella with partner K9 Basilone. Credits: Rod Hirsch
59e27675523e61ceddc3_sompixK9basilonetomwiaterauthor.jpeg
"The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog" author Tom Wiater holds a K9 armored vest. Credits: Courtesy Tom Wiater
27320ed2fbf713c3cb35_sompixK9basilone3.JPG
Shannon DiNella works and lives with K9 Basilone 24/7, 365 days a year. The dog returns home with her when their shift is completed. Credits: Rod Hirsch
09fbf62bf5e3979f82ff_sompixK9basilonegroup.JPG
Sheriff Frank Provenzano, at right, introduces the K9s and their partners: Officer Shannon DiNella and K9 Basilone; Officer Al Bauer with K9 Diesel and K9 Billy and Officer Dave Daneker with K9 Apex. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Sheriff's Office
1fde95c169ddb6d008a0_sompixjohnbasilone.jpg
Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, shown wearing his Medal of Honor.
d68b39a3c4df1534c922_sompixjohnbasilonememorial.jpg
The John Basilone Memorial in Raritan. Credits: Rod Hirsch
5b8a605bd452985092b4_sompixK9basilone2.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Author Jim Wiater came up with the story by chance. He was multi-tasking – driving the car and entertaining his young daughters, Nikki and Kaci with a story that he made up as he drove.  

Over the years, he expanded and refined the story line, sat down, and began to write. Finally, last year, he self-published “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog,”nearly 12 years after the story was first conceived, inspired by the bravery of a real-life K9.

It is a children’s book, about a K9 police dog, but it goes beyond teaching children value lessons - “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog” helps to protect other K9s on the job.

Sign Up for E-News

Proceeds from the sale of each book are used to underwrite the expense of body armor for K9s, as well as other customized K9 equipment. It takes about 60 books to buy a custom K9 vest, according to Wiater.

“Actually, make that 59, I sold one yesterday,” Wiater said Wednesday.

Each vest is custom fit after the dog has been measured to ensure maximum comfort during an 8- 10- or 12-hour shift, he said.

Next in line for a fitted armor vest is K9 Basilone, a 14-month-old black and brown German Shepherd, the newest officer in the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department, trained in article search and tracking.

Born in January, 2016 in the Slovak Republic, Basilone came to America one year later and was assigned to Somerset County Sheriff’s K9 Officer Shannon DiNella on March 9.

He completed training at the Union County K9 Academy with DiNella on May 11.

DiNella was paired with Basilone after an extensive application process and evaluation by her superior officers.  

As a member of the 4H “Woof Dog Club,” she had spent several years working with and training dogs in obedience and agility; she also competed as a handler at American Kennel club shows.

She said there was “instant chemistry” with her new partner.

“The other officers in the academy used to make fun of me, that the dog had big crush on me,” DiNella said. He rarely needed to be corrected during his training.

“This dog would heel by my side, gaze up into my eyes for my approval; it’s as if he were saying ‘Aren’t you proud of me?’ ’’ she said.

There are three other K9s in the Sheriff’s Department.

K9 Diesel is paired with Sheriff Officer Al Bauer; Diesel is trained for tracking and explosives detection. Bauer also is paired with K9 Billy, trained for arson investigations.

Sheriff Officer Dave Daneker partners with K9 Apex, trained to detect narcotics.

All K9s and their partners are on call 24/7, 365 days a year and work with local police departments throughout Somerset County and beyond.

K9 Basilone, as do the other dogs, returns home with their partners once their shift is completed.

K9 Basilone is named in honor of USMC Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone who was killed in action during World War II and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A resident of Raritan, Basilone received the Medal of Honor at the battle of Guadalcanal and the Navy Cross for his valor during the battle of Iwo Jima, where he was killed. Basilone is the only Marine to receive both honors during World War II.

K9 Basilone, accompanied by DiNella, the other K9s and their partners, was introduced at a Raritan Borough Council meeting in May.

Since publication in January, 750 copies of the book have been sold; proceeds have purchased K-9 body armor for three other dogs, as well as a K9 first aid field trauma kits, a K9 cooling vest, and Pet Oxygen Mask kits requested by local police departments, prosecutor and sheriff offices in New Jersey, according to Wiater.

A resident of Millstone in Monmouth County, Wiater is the carpentry teacher at Piscataway Vo-Tech.

The real life K9 Solo was killed in the line of duty in Bradley Beach in 1998. Touched by the story of the dog’s bravery, Wiater told a gathering of the New Jersey State PBA that he made a promise to himself then that he would purchase a bullet proof vest for a K9 officer.

He's now working on Number Four, and intends to grow that number.

The author encourages other police agencies to request K9 armor or other equipment; requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

More information can be found online at BigDogBooks.net and at GoFundMe, Friends of Solo/K9 equipment on Facebook.

The single-copy price for “The Adventures of Solo, The Big Dog,” is $18.70, plus shipping and handling. To purchase a copy online visit Bigdogbooks.net or email Jim@bigdogbooks.net.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Basking Ridge

Piscataway Man Identified in Pedestrian Fatality on I-287 in Bridgewater Wednesday

June 7, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Piscataway man was identified as the tow truck operator killed when he was struck by another vehicle on I-287 in Bridgewater Wednesday afternoon, according to NJ State Police Sgt. Lawrence Peele.

Nicholas Coble, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was struck by a vehicle while clearing another car from the roadway at 1:44 p.m.

According to Peele, Coble was in ...

Sleep out at Covenant House

June 18, 2018

I can enjoy the same movies over and over like it were the first time to see them.  My kids roll their eyes at this.  Well, many unimaginable things happen as you become a certain age, and you tend to learn to accept those things graciously as gift.   But I remember the movie “The Blind Side.”  Until I saw that movie, I didn’t know homeless children ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, June 20, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, June 20, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

The Masterwork Chorus Launches 19th Summer Sing ...

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, June 21, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Horse Care Workshops at Lord Stirling Stable Start June 23

June 17, 2018

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable is offering Horse Care Workshop 101 for adults and youth seeking to gain experience and confidence around horses through a combination of non-riding activities and hands-on practice.

Horse Care Workshop 101 will be held at Lord Stirling Stable, 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, NJ beginning Saturday June ...