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Kilowatt: Dog lights up power plant

POSTED December 5, 2011 4:39 p.m.
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Karen La Pierre/

Dave Wondra, Bob Lowe and John Carey, from left...

HOISINGTON — A fierce-looking 125 pound German shepherd with ears about the size of an adult’s hand, bounds for the door of the Hoisington Power Plant at the sound of strangers approaching, barking loudly and warning employees. His job done, and after some petting, he flops down in the main office on the floor.

From orphan to proud plant canine, Kilowatt has made a home for himself in the electric plant and in the hearts of those around him.

About five years ago, a six-week-old pup, evidently a pure-bred German shepherd, tried to crawl under the porch of a Hoisington resident about this time of year. With bleeding paws and an head wound, the dog appeared to have runaway.

Knowing that the plant was in search of a dog, the city dog catcher brought him by for the weekend.

"He fit in," said Dave Wondra, superintendent of the plant. And so, the male German shepherd the men named Kilowatt, found a new home and a new family.

Despite appearances and a "woolf" that reverberates throughout the plant, Kilowatt has a calm and gentle personality with bright intelligent eyes and ears that quirk when people are talking about him. "His personality fits with everybody," said Wondra. "He’s a good dog, good-natured and laid-back."

There is one notable exception. He does not like cats. He does, however, like to chase rabbits, but rarely has any luck catching them. "He was not built for speed," said John Carey, plant operator. According to Wondra, the dog doesn’t miss many meals, accounting for the reason for his current girth.

Kilowatt lives at the plant full-time and is taken care of by Wondra, Carey and the other plant employee, Bob Lowe. The employees buy the dog food and pay for his shots out of their own money. Each weekend, the on-call employee, which rotates amongst the three, comes by the plant a few times to feed Kilowatt and walk him.

"The city provides him with water and a roof over his head," said the plant supervisor.

Like any proud family, someone has taken pictures of Kilowatt, including one framed photo. They are the only pictures in the plant.

Kilowatt knows several tricks, including road kill, where he will lay on his back and stick his feet in the air for a treat. He is ambidextrous and can shake hands with both paws. Plus, he heels really well.

Hanging out with the employees during the day, Kilowatt sleeps on a pillow or blanket only after everyone is gone for the day. After so many years, the dog knows the routine and the sounds of the vehicles of visitors that regularly drop by to see him.

Kilowatt thinks that he is top dog of the plant, and doesn’t like four-legged invaders, except the dachshund from next door. The word "girlfriend," a word the dog happens to know, however, nearly brings the dog to his feet. The two buddies like to run up and down the fence line.

"He doesn’t like to be ignored," said Wondra. "He rules the roost."

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