By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – A retired K9 who served the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office for ten years, received an emotional send-off Saturday, Jan. 23.
The K9 retired three years ago and recently was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor.
Dozens of officers from area police departments, including numerous K9 units, gathered at Lake City Animal Clinic in Warsaw following a procession of emergency vehicles that began in Etna Green.
Rex joined the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office in 2008 and was partnered with Deputy Jeff Howie until 2010. For the next eight years, Rex valiantly and faithfully served with Sgt. Travis Shively, according to the sheriff’s office.
In 2018, Rex retired from active duty and spent the last three years with his handler and family.
At the clinic, Shively gently hoisted Rex from the police SUV and set him down gently so youngsters and others could give him a final pet and say goodbye.
The quiet gathering felt much like a funeral.
On Saturday, Rex looked tired and struggled to walk. He’d lost the gleam in his eye that was evident in his police photo, and gray hair around his muzzle was more prominent. He took a few steps, greeted onlookers and then sat down for a rest while others continued to comfort him.
Shively thanked everyone for coming out to pay their respects.
The group then huddled around Rex for a final prayer.
“Heavenly Father, what a tough day this is. If you’re a dog lover, you know what the Shively family is going through,” said Todd Eby, a reserve officer who led the group in prayer. “The only way we can avoid death is to not have life.”
Rex gained a reputation for sniffing out illegal drugs and enjoyed being around children at area schools.
An officer who declined to give his name said he worked the same shift as Rex for eight years. He said Rex stood out as the best he’d seen.
“We always had confidence in Rex. Whenever there were suspects that got away, we always knew we had Rex in our back pocket to locate them,” the officer said.
“He knew when it was time to work but when it wasn’t, he was very people friendly and the kids loved him.”
Supporters then moved over to the entrance of the clinic where officers saluted the dog as he prepared to walk into the clinic.
Shively and family members then escorted him inside to be euthanized.