SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY — The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of one of their own, K-9 officer Haakon.
“He was such a big, large, loving, teddy bear,” said Lt. Randy Johnson, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.
That is until it was time to get to work.
Lt. Johnson, a former K-9 handler says Haakon was more than a partner to his handler deputy Joshua Stillman.
“He’s a part of the family, both Josh’s family and as well as the department here,” he said.
The sheriff’s office says Haakon completed routine obedience training with Stillman Wednesday morning and was put in his kennel for a break.
“About 15 minutes after that, he comes back to find Haakon unresponsive in his kennel and at that point was when he was immediately rushed to an emergency vet,” Johnson said.
After undergoing treatment and several tests– the K-9 was later released until deputy Stillman made a heartbreaking discovery Thursday morning.
“He let him out into the backyard to take his morning break and when he went to bring him back in that’s when he found he had passed,” Johnson explained.
The sheriff’s office tells FOX40 there was no single cause of death for Haakon who had overcome several serious injuries including having his throat slashed throughout his career.
“All the worst thongs a K-9 team can actually face, this dog has persevered through all of it,” said Johnson.
Johnson says Stillman and Haakon were a team for the last seven years and built an unbreakable bond.
“You work with that animal, your partner day in and day out, 24/7, 365 days a year,” he said. “The dogs with you every moment you’re at work and when you go home, the dog loads up in your car and you take him home.”
K-9 Haakon is gone but will never be forgotten.
He’ll be remembered by the department as “a friend, partner, a definite warrior and a hero,” according to Johnson.
Officers from the sheriff’s office, Stockton police, and other surrounding agencies provided a procession for K-9 Haakon for a private ceremony in Tracy.
His partner, deputy Stillman drove him in the back, one last time before he was cremated.