Manhattan, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) K9 Caesar died on Feb. 14, following a battle with cancer.
K9 Caesar, a nine-year-old German Shepherd, served three tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army before he became the first-ever military service dog to join the NYPD, the New York Daily News reported.
He was also FEMA-certified, and helped out with earthquake disaster relief in Haiti.
Before he was brought onto the force in 2014, K9 Caesar demonstrated his battle-tested skills by running through a series of drills inside an amusement park haunted house.
The military veteran never startled, and joined the K9 team immediately afterwards.
"I want to test the dog in an environment the dog has never seen before," NYPD K9 Unit Training Supervisor Sergeant Randy Brenner told the New York Daily News in 2014. "If the dog's not affected…and he's not disturbed by any environmental factors, to me, he's the best dog."
"I look at it as, I'm giving a veteran a job," Sgt. Brenner explained. "Their sole purpose is working. Every day to them is a great day as long as they're working. They're excited to work."
K9 Caesar served alongside his partner, NYPD Officer Juan Rodriguez, who is also an Army veteran with two tours overseas.
The duo worked in the department’s Transit K9 Unit, patrolling the subways.
"I think there's no better partner. No better loyalty than having a K-9 by your side," Officer Rodriguez told ABC News in 2014. "He's loyal. We bonded right away. He loves my [two-year-old] son. I take him home. I can't walk him without my son.”
"I think he's more of a veteran than I am," Officer Rodriguez added. "He's had three deployments. I only had two. It is an honor to work with him. It sounds funny to say that I'm honored to work with a dog but I know I can trust him and I feel comfortable knowing that if I go out there, he'll find anything and help save lives."
"I'm not sure how long their working life is but I hope he lasts a good amount of years so I can work with him as long as I can,” K9 Caesar’s partner said at the time.
Law enforcement officers – many with K9 partners – lined up outside the Animal Medical Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Feb. 14 to honor K9 Caesar with a final salute, the New York Daily News reported.
K9 Caesar walked alongside Officer Rodriguez, past their saluting colleagues, and took one last look at the East River.
The partners then went inside the clinic, where K9 Caesar was humanely euthanized.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the New York Police Department and Officer Rodriguez in the loss of K9 Caesar.
Rest easy, hero. Your life mattered.