It was a somber affair as police officers lined a Philadelphia street to say a special final farewell to a four-legged coworker.
Rookie, a Lower Merion police K-9 who worked on security details in the five-county region for seven years, had to be put down Monday after the discovery of a tumor in her heart. Police officers and staff at the University of Pennsylvania Vet Working Dog Center were present to see her off.
“She has a long history with Penn. She has a long history with me. I brought her as a puppy from Chicago to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, where we raised and trained her,” recalled Dr. Cindy Otto, the center’s director. The K-9 was one of the first to be trained at the center.
Rookie had notable achievements in her career, including working the Democratic National Convention and the detail when the Pope went to Lower Merion. She worked to detect bombs, track suspects and find missing people.
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“She would find missing people. We had a couple searches. Sometimes we had missing kids and she would lead us to them or lead us in the direction where we would find the kid that was missing,” said patrolman Eric Curcio of the Lower Merion Police Department.
Curcio recounted how the dog served various jurisdictions, helping with late-night searches. Rookie was “ace” and one of the best working dogs the patrolman recalled seeing in his career.
For seven years, Rookie was partnered with Officer Jeffrey Seamans. They worked together, walked together and lived together.
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Up until last week, she was still working and training, but then she suddenly collapsed. Veterinarians found an incurable tumor in her heart.
Seamans’ family made the trip down to say goodbye to the beloved pooch. As the family walked her into Penn's Ryan Veterinary Hospital, police officers – some with their own K-9s sitting in front of them – stood at attention and gave one final salute as Rookie walked through the doors.
“It’s a hero’s sendoff and that’s what we want,” Seamans’ brother said.