After Losing K-9 Partner to Cancer, Police Officer Saves a Shelter Dog in His Honor

One of the last photos taken of Eiko before he passed away. Photo by Kristen Alexander | www.kristenalexanderphotography.com

One of the last photos taken of Eiko before he passed away. Photo by Kristen Alexander | www.kristenphoto.com

It came as a shock to all of us when we learned that K-9 Eiko had lost his battle to cancer before it seemingly ever began. We cried together around Eiko and his steadfast partner, Officer Shawn Humphreys, as he received the news that his beloved four-legged friend had a few days, perhaps a week or two at best, to live. He was only 8 years old - an impeccable police dog that had still been working the streets up to that fateful day - and had shown no signs of illness or pain.

One week later, we were gathered together again. But this time, it was to say a final goodbye to one of the best police dogs any of us have ever known. The community rallied around Shawn and a truly beautiful funeral was arranged for Eiko. Shawn was devastated, still in disbelief that his ever-dependable partner was gone, but he took some comfort in the support of his friends, family, department, and community.

Photo by Kristen Alexander| www.kristenphoto.com

A heartbreaking image of Officer Humphreys captured at Eiko's funeral. Photo by Kristen Alexander| www.kristenphoto.com

The week after Eiko's death, Shawn received word that a local rescue group, Releash Atlanta, wanted to rescue a dog in Eiko's honor. The dog, an injured shepherd mix that was facing euthanasia at a rural animal control facility, had been surrendered to animal control by his former owner and needed immediate medical attention.

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Shawn and Eiko Jr.

Releash Atlanta founder Kristin Sarkar says that her group really didn't have room for another dog, but that, "We couldn't help but think his life needed to be saved given the loss of my newest dog friend Eiko that I had met the week before. We named him Eiko in memory of Shawn's amazing K-9."

"EJ" enjoys bathtime with Shawn and his wife, Michelle.

"EJ" enjoys bathtime with Shawn and his wife, Michelle.

Shawn and his family jumped at the opportunity to open their home as fosters for the dog, who they've nicknamed "EJ" (Eiko Junior). He has settled in wonderfully in their home and will be available for adoption through Releash Atlanta in just a few short weeks. Although the void Eiko left will never be truly filled, Shawn says that EJ's presence helps to ease the pain and bring joy back into their grieving household.

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As you'll see in the photo above, Eiko Jr. has even taken over Eiko's duty of sharing Shawn's favorite chair with him, quite literally filling the void that Eiko left behind.

The loss of K-9 Eiko left our entire "Guardians of the Night" family in pieces, but seeing the positive impact he continues to have even after his death gives us all just a bit more peace.

Copyright Victoria Stilwell. For information about republication, please email [email protected] 


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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


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  • David Martin

    Eiko Jr. was previously known as "Sarge." We were blessed to have him in our care for a short period. We adopted him from our local pound after he was found hiding under a trampoline after a severe storm. His foot injury possibly came from his bout with the storm. After several rounds of antibiotics, a surgery and many visits to our local veterinary hospital, we were stumped as to how to help Sarge. With broken hearts, we knew that he needed more help than we could provide and afford so we decided to ask the local pound to see if they knew of a group that could get him to a specialist because he had so much life and love to give. We have been tracking Sarge, Eiko, on his journey and are joyful in knowing that he is in great hands! God bless each of you.

  • Linda Brophy

    THAT WAS SO SWEET JUST TO KNOW THAT YOU,DAVID MARTIN GAVE HIM CHANCE AT A NEW LIFE AND THAT HE WOULD KNOW THAT THIS IS SOME GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT CARES AND SHOWS HIM LOVE AND KINDNESS NOT CRULITY.BLESS YOU.

  • katboxjanitor

    Another example of the wonders of teamwork. K9 Eiko understood teamwork and his handler & family are incredible people for fostering dear EJSarge through his healing.
    A wonderful way to honor K9 Eiko's life.

    And a great example of what can happen when rescue agencies and their community members work together.

  • Kate G

    I'm so glad Shawn decided to foster EJ. It's a hard decision to adopt or even foster so close after a death but sometimes they bring peace we may have been missing. We adopted Zena two weeks after our other dog passed on and it's exactly like Shawn says: the void is never filled, but she helped us grieve and brought us new joy and peace.

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