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Adored Gwinnett police dog who nabbed 77 suspects laid to rest

DACULA - A German Shepherd like EX didn't waste energy on inconsequential cats.

The six-year veteran of the Gwinnett County Police Department's K-9 unit is credited with catching 77 suspects, including alleged murderers and drug dealers. He helped sniff out nearly $1 million in narcotics, property and dirty cash. And youngsters across Gwinnett adored EX as the "demo dog" for his show-stopping performances in area grade schools.

But EX got old. He was bugged with tendinitis in his shoulders, arthritis in his back. His owner had EX put to sleep recently at age 12.

"I had him longer than I've had two of my three kids," said Officer Rob Kenyon, EX's partner since 1997. "They become part of your family."

EX was buried Tuesday during funeral services at Oak Rest Pet Gardens Funeral Home in Dacula. Like most police dogs at Oak Rest, he'll reside through eternity in the Garden of Honor. His partner read a eulogy, calling the Slovakian-born, American-trained dog "an ambassador" for the K-9 unit.

"(EX) was always the star, and I became 'that police officer with EX,'" said Kenyon. "We both loved it."

Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said the department oversees six dogs - five trained for narcotics and one for explosives. But Kenyon said the officer-dog relationship he had with EX was one of a kind.

Upon EX's retirement in 2002, Kenyon took his partner home for good. There, the dog snuffed out hidden toys with the same gusto he once tracked narcotics.

"Working K-9 is truly unique in that you literally take your work home with you," Kenyon said.

EX's bark was apparently more necessary than his bite. Of the 77 suspects on EX's list, only one - a fleeing man suspected of armed robbery - was bitten, Kenyon said.

The animal's character reflected what good police should be - patient, considerate, dedicated, Kenyon said.

"(EX) was my partner, sometimes my teacher and always my pal," said Kenyon, concluding his eulogy. "May you always run fast, bite hard and fear nothing."