By Brian Livingston / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
On Tuesday, Ricky Roberts lost a valued friend.
The former police officer, who is now a judge in Lauderdale County, said goodbye to Madoek, a Malinois breed of dog that has been with the family since 2001, when the two teamed up as K-9 partners on the Meridian Police Department.
"I was blessed to have been a K-9 handler for two dogs," Roberts said. "Most handlers don't get to serve but with one dog but the city was good enough to let me have two."
Roberts' first dog, Breston, died in 2000 as a result of injuries the dog suffered in a car accident with Roberts. That was a hard loss for Roberts and his family to take. K-9 officers live with the family of their handlers so in many respects they are as much a family pet as they are a working police dog. Everyone in the Roberts family, and the officers of the MPD, were affected by the loss.
Police officers view K-9 officers as one of their own. In fact, an assault against a K-9 officer carries stiff penalties, much like that of offenses against human officers.
Roberts was then paired up with Madoek. As Roberts tells it, Madoek was completely different in personality from Breston.
"Breston was laid back whereas Madoek was much more intense," Roberts said. "But both dogs became a huge part of the family and both did their jobs extremely well. Just like people, you had to get to know their personalities and once you did that the rest was fairly easy."
Madoek, said Roberts, was intuitive to the point he could almost smell trouble before it occurred. Roberts remembered on one occasion where Madoek practically saved Roberts life when he was dealing with a suspect.
"He prevented the guy from pulling a gun on me," said Roberts. "He sensed something before I did and he went into action."
Talk with any K-9 handler and chances are they will tell you their furry partner will without hesitation put their lives on the line for their human handler. Time and again stories of the unselfish nature of canines in the line of duty, whether it is as a K-9 officer, a military canine, or just a home pet, are told of how they save a human life. Madoek passed away Tuesday after 15 years of service and dedication. Roberts said he had to make one of the hardest decisions in his life when he just couldn't take seeing his good friend and partner suffering from old age.
Quietly at his home, Roberts called his family together and with the help of a local veterinarian prepared to end Madoek's pain.
"It is like losing a member of the family," Roberts said solemnly. "I never will forget his eyes as he looked up at me. There was so much I wanted to tell him. But I think he knew."
Madoek was buried alongside Breston near the Roberts family cemetery. It is a place of reverence and one where neither canine will be far from those they protected and loved.