Sheriff's bloodhound Ethel sniffed out missing people and sought out children, especially those seated in wheelchairs, when she served five years at the Sheriff's Office.
Ethel, who retired from duty because of cancer three years ago, said her last goodbyes to handler K-9 Deputy Michael Romans Monday as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge for pets located just outside of heaven.
Romans remembered Ethel, his first K-9 partner.
"She was always happy and always seemed to have a smile on her face," Romans said. "She never met a stranger and her tail was always wagging. Her favorite things to do was definitely eating and meeting all the people and children in the schools and the community."
Ethel served as the first full-time bloodhound on a shift and loved her job to locate missing people.
In her first find, she located a missing girl and "licked her in the face," Romans remembered.
On another search, Romans lifted her over a fence to Sgt. Nick Coble and handed him the lead while he climbed over the fence.
"She was trying to pull him to the lady we were looking for" just yards away in a wooded area, the handler said.
Her last find was a man who injured himself and retreated to a wooded area.
"We found him in a thicket," said Romans, who was accompanied by Lt. Brian Wright and Lt. David Foote.
Besides tracking people, Ethel represented the Sheriff's Office at many schools and other community events.
Ethel loved visiting kids at schools and at Special Kids, a center providing therapy and nursing services to children with special needs.
"She would always go and sit by the children in wheelchairs and wait for them to pet her," Romans said, explaining Ethel had a sense about special children.
Ethel loved Christmas. When Romans' family prepared to decorate, Ethel would grab a Santa hat and other decorations and play.
"She liked Christmas because she knew she would get toys," Romans said with a smile.
Romans thanked veterinarians Dr. Larry Williams and Dr. Jean Lavalley and their staff at Williams Animal Hospital for treating Ethel for many years.
The deputy wrote a tribute to Ethel.
"Ethel, you will truly be missed, more importantly you will be missed by me. Thank you, Ethel, for your service and being very special in my life. I love you, Ethel."