A bond beyond the badge: LPD K9 handler and his K9

A bond beyond the badge: LPD K9 handler and his K9

LUBBOCK -

A boy and his dog, it's always a great story.  Especially when the boy, wears a badge and the dog is his fiercely devoted partner.  

Such was the case for Lubbock Police officer Joe Cook and his Dutch Shepherd partner, Robby.

Being on LPD's K9 unit was something officer Joe Cook has wanted to do from the start.

"So naturally I started going out to the K9 division, started decoying with them that's one of the first things that you do, you start to decoy, you get in the bite suit, you get to see how the dog bites, work with them," Cook said. 

"During that time, I'm evaluating them and also the other guys in the unit are evaluating them on how well they react around dogs if they are afraid of dogs, and if they take instruction well," LPD K9 Unit Sergeant Michael Jordan said.

The chance to join the unit doesn't  happen very often.

"We have handlers that have been on the unit 15 years, we've got handlers that have been on it 10 years and myself I've been on five years, but I don't see myself going anywhere any time soon," Cook said. "It took me about two and a half years of decoying and I got the opportunity to handle the dog and so they threw me right into it. "

The bond between Joe and Robby didn't form overnight. 

"I knew he bit hard, but I knew he was a phenomenal police dog so I knew if I could just get over the fear of being afraid of him and get to handle him and know and build that re-pore that he would be a great police dog," Cook said.

Joe and Robby's partnership was one of a kind. The two were nominated for the hometown hero award. 

"I knew that absolutely no matter what I was doing Robby was always going to be there, I could pop that door open and say lets go and he was ready to go to work and I knew that Robby would give his life to protect me without hesitation," Cook said.

Their partnership lasted three years.

"We were exercising and I was throwing the ball for him and I threw the ball out and he comes limping back to me, immediately recognized something was wrong, I checked him out, he said dad, here is nothing wrong throw the ball again so I threw the ball again the next time he came back limping I said okay that's enough we put him in the truck," Cook said. "I took him into the vet the next morning, the vet said he had a debilitating injury in his leg that no longer allowed him to do police work."

"I've got to be honest that was the most-devastating part to my K9 career to this point," Cook said.

Robby forced into retirement, meant he went from being Joe's partner to his pet.

"You know we take on a big responsibility whenever the dogs retire and we actually take them. The city donates the dogs to us, gives them to us and we take on the responsibility of keeping sure the dogs, the liability of them, but we also take on the vet bills, the food bills, things like that's kinda a bit for us to take on, but we will gladly do that because we love them," Cook said.

Even though Robby is retired, Joe still thinks about the good ole days.

"If I could make him young again and put him back in the car, work with him tomorrow and make more of those memories I would absolutely do it no doubt. No questions asked, he's probably one of the best police dogs that I could ever have asked for, to be my partner for the first time," Cook said.

Joe has a new partner, Enzo.

"It really is hard to watch him sit there and be upset Enzo gets to go and him not to go, but at the end of the day he finally gets to be just a dog instead of going out and working all the time, he gets to be a dog, lay around and be lazy," Cook said.

Joe never imagined he'd grow such an amazing bond with his 10-year-old friend and partner. 

Joe is thankful the city allows him to care for Robby in his retirement years.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Cook said.

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