K-9 Bojar (pronounced Bo-yar) was a male German Shepherd who was imported from the Czech Republic. We started our career together with the City of Lawrencevillein the year 2000. Bojar ‘had my back’ on a full-time basis from 2000 – 2005. After his retirement, I brought him out on K-9 training days to keep him active and he occasionally ran police calls when needed. His last call as a police dog took place in 2007. The vet had estimated his age to be somewhere between 13 and 14 years old.
Bojar had an incredible career on the streets and helped catch criminals wanted for just about every imaginable crime including murders, home invasions, armed robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, drive-by-shootings, bank robberies, aggravated assaults, and many other violent crimes. It seemed the more serious the crime, the better my four-legged partner performed.
Most of the public knew little of K-9 Bojar. Once he had caught the bad guy, Bojar was back in the police car and ready to go to the next call. Many victims of crimes never knew it was my little partner who helped bring their suspect to justice.
I’m certain that all these people, along with more than a hundred other victims, were thankful that the police had caught the suspects, but few probably knew it was K-9 Bojar and his incredible nose who was ultimately responsible.
After Bojar’s retirement, he became a full-time friend and protector to my family and me. For 10 years, he went on vacation with us, enjoyed celebrating birthdays and holidays, and spent most of his time in the house as weenjoyed his company. At night I would go to work with hugs and kisses from the family and the reassurance that Bojar was watching over them while I was away. Even after I left police work and went back to the fire department, Bojar would carefully watch in anticipation of being able to go to work with me. He was always the first to greet me when I returned home.
In November, 2009 I noticed Bojar’s health in decline. Medicine from the vet brought little relief to my aging partner. The last few days had me carrying him up and down the stairs to his blanket in my bedroom; the same stairs where I had once watched him bound past me in three giant leaps so he could get to the top first. Then came Saturday morning; Bojar’s breathing was labored, he looked tired and didn’t want to move. For the first time since we had been together, he closed his eyes and laid his head down while I was petting on his head. In the past, every time I rubbed on that old dog’s head, he would lay there with his head up and watch me. When I first got him, I thought maybe he didn’t like it, and even thought that maybe he didn’t like me! But then I noticed he would walk up to me and start grinding his head into my hands wanting to be petted. Bojar liked it; he just had a strange way of showing it.
After lying there beside him that morning, I knew there was something seriously wrong with my little partner. I woke up my family so they could give Bojar final hugs and goodbyes in case he wouldn’t be coming home from the vet’s office. With tears in their eyes, they waved goodbye as we drove away from the house.
It was a peaceful ride to Gwinnett Animal Clinic. It brought back memories of having Bojar riding in the back of the police car as we patrolled the streets at night. What great times I had riding around with him looking for criminals. At the vet’s office, Bojar would not let me carry him inside; instead he insisted on walking the final few steps on his own.
With my fingers crossed, I watched as Dr. Wallis examined Bojar. I still had that little bit of hope that once again the vet could find some magic cure so I could hold on to my old partner just a little longer. I knew it wasn’t good when halfway through the examination Dr. Wallis stopped looking at me when he spoke. After he stepped out to do the blood work, I spent the time talking to Bojar and reminding of how thankful I was to have worked with him and have him as a part of my life. I told him stories of some of the calls we had been on together back when he was in the prime of his life. Dr. Wallis came in with the news that I had been trying to prepare myself for during the past couple of months. Even though I wasn’t surprised, it was none the easier hearing the fate of my partner.
I was able to be with Bojar as he was given the medicine that would bring an end to his suffering. I rubbed on his ears, held him close, made sure he knew that I loved him, and reminded him to say hey to K-9 Cisco, Beny and Gor-don and the other four-legged police officers that he would soon join company with. There was a sense of relief knowing my partner would be among his friends.
Thanks to Chief Johnson for giving me the opportunity to work with Bojar and to the Lawrenceville Police Department and all the other officers and K-9 handlers who took the time to sit on a perimeter, run as our back-up, put on the sleeve, lay those countless practice tracks, and let Bojar hear the ratcheting of handcuffs as they locked down on many a suspect’s wrist.
Thanks to Officers Dave Russell and John Surowiec - your friendship and desire to train with us made Bojar and me a better K-9 team.
And thank you K-9 Bojar for all that you have done; bringing me home safely every night, bringing criminals to justice, watching over my family, and being a wonderful friend to us all over the past 10 years. Until we meet again Bojar, may you always run fast, bite hard, and fear nothing!
Your grateful partner,
Officer Emory Griffith