Sheriff's Office K-9 companion honored at service (w/video)
May 22, 2014 at 12:22 a.m.
Updated May 23, 2014 at 12:23 a.m.
Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies solemnly swapped stories Thursday morning about the late K-9 officer Rocky.
His four-legged comrades stood by, some attentive, others restless before a good scratch behind the ears.
Such an elaborate service was probably unprecedented for a K-9 officer before being interred in a memorial in front of the North Glass Street office, but Rocky was more than deserving, said Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor.
Rocky died Sept. 16 of a degenerative medical condition.
"A K-9 is an unspoken hero - a warrior," O'Connor said. "We wanted to do it right."
Rocky, a Belgian Malinois, began his career in law enforcement in 2008. That's when he met Lt. Gary Lytle.
"The first thing I heard was, 'Want to say hi to lieutenant?' (Cpl.) Craig (Kirkpatrick) had him on a long leash, and he stormed in the door and landed on my lap," Lytle said. "If we had about three hours, I could probably tell you the fear I had in that first experience."
Above all, Rocky commanded respect - even from about 500 unruly inmates, who were not pleased when they were corralled into some buses as a hurricane threatened the Crossroads a few years ago.
"I said, 'Craig, can your dog bark on command?' He said, 'Yes, sir.' ... His bark drew such attention that everybody sat down on every bus," O'Connor said.
Rocky was a hard worker, too. He won countless awards and seized more than $7.3 million in narcotics and cash during traffic stops with his partner.
"I still look for him in the back of my patrol car," Kirkpatrick said after the ceremony.
Kirkpatrick is open to another K-9 partner, though. Right now, the sheriff's office is home to three dogs. Its goal is to get one more. Most begin their service between the ages of 2 and 4, he said.
"But there will never be another dog like Rocky," Kirkpatrick said.