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Farewell to a friend: Faithful K-9 laid to rest

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Top, a flag is presented to Emory Griffith and his 7-year-old daughter, Ali, by Lawrenceville Police Honor Guard member Shane Wood on Thursday at Oak Rest Pet Gardens in Bethlehem. The flag had been draped over K-9 Bojar's casket. Bojar was retired from the Lawrenceville Police Department. His last call as a police dog was in 2007.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Top, a flag is presented to Emory Griffith and his 7-year-old daughter, Ali, by Lawrenceville Police Honor Guard member Shane Wood on Thursday at Oak Rest Pet Gardens in Bethlehem. The flag had been draped over K-9 Bojar's casket. Bojar was retired from the Lawrenceville Police Department. His last call as a police dog was in 2007.

BETHLEHEM -- To Gwinnett County, K-9 Bojar was a faithful servant. To his family, he was a faithful friend.

On Thursday, the German Shepherd -- four years removed from active police work -- was laid to rest amidst 36 other four-legged civil servants and hundreds of beloved pets at the Oak Rest Pet Gardens and Crematory.

Bojar (pronounced Bo-yar) served alongside his Lawrenceville police partner, Emory Griffith, for five years before his retirement in 2005. Griffith was forced to have Bojar put down Saturday after the K-9's health rapidly began to decline about two months ago.

Despite his prayers, Griffith, now a fire investigator, knew Saturday morning that his old sidekick likely had bounded up the home's stairs for the last time. His breathing was labored and he 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," Griffith said.

Recalling Bojar's career as a K-9 officer, Griffith remembered the Buford woman who had been carjacked and terrorized with a knife; the Snellville restaurant manager who had a gun held to his head during a robbery; the New York family whose daughter was murdered -- all crime victims whose attackers were nabbed and brought to justice thanks in large part to the nose of a highly trained police dog.

Bojar was enthusiastic about his work, Griffith said, always ready to catch the bad guy and move on to the next call.

After his retirement, Bojar led the good life. He spent his last 10 years watching over the family, celebrating holidays and taking vacations.

His funeral was worthy of any hero, and included the Lawrenceville Police Department honor guard folding and presenting the American flag and the presentation of "Taps," saluting his service.

Though his shift may be over, Bojar created memories that will last a lifetime. He served a community and became part of a family.

Griffith, confident that his partner is now in the company of K-9 officers who passed before him, left Bojar with well-wishes until they meet again: "Run fast, bite hard and fear nothing!"