GREENE COUNTY, Mo. – The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Thursday, January 5, that K9 Athos has passed away.

The post said Athos passed away on January 4 surrounded by family at 8 years and 7 months.

Athos will be laid to rest at a private ceremony in the coming weeks, according to the Facebook post.

Athos’ K9 handler, Detective Morgan Rudderham, composed the following obituary for Athos:

“Athos was born in May of 2014 and came to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 2015 to start his career with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Athos was a dual-purpose patrol canine trained in narcotics detection, tracking/trailing, suspect detention/apprehension, evidence/article searches and handler defense. While serving the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Athos trained and deployed with Greene County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. and assisted multiple other agencies including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Postal Service, Missouri State Highway Patrol as well as numerous other Sheriff’s Departments and local municipal police agencies.

Although Athos’s career was cut short due to an injury sustained in the line of duty, he served the Sheriff’s Office well. Athos’s performance during his hundreds of deployments led to more than 100 suspect apprehensions, approximately 65 suspect tracks, close to 200 vehicle sniffs resulting in recovered narcotics and multiple evidence finds. Athos also represented the Sheriff’s Office on Live PD and participated in numerous community events and demonstrations.

Weighing in at more than 90 pounds, with the blockiest head imaginable, Athos truly had a presence about him. He was strong, independent, incredibly smart and stubborn. He was well known for persuading suspects to surrender simply with his loud grumbly breathing, powerful bark and the snap of his jowls. Because he weighed almost as much as I do, people would often jokingly ask if I handled Athos or if Athos handled me. If I’m being honest, there were days in the beginning of our training together that I would ask myself the same question. But as time went on, Athos and I built an incredible bond. He respected me and I respected him more. Athos worked in a way that pushed me, not only to be a better handler, but a better cop overall. I am thankful I was chosen to hold the leash for Athos and proud of the career we had as partners.

After several years on the job, Athos was retired after sustaining an injury to his shoulders, but even at home Athos was always looking for work. He spent his days chasing bad guys in his dreams, or napping on the job while guarding the doors of our family home. He used his skills to help find lost jewelry, keys and debit cards. He went on as many walks and car rides as we could let him. He grew to love Nylabones almost as much as a Kong and he never went a single day without enjoying both.

Most people will never understand the bond between a working dog and their handler, but I have been lucky enough know that feeling thanks to Athos. He was never just a dog, he was so much more. Athos impacted the lives of countless people and kept the citizens of Greene County safe, specifically my family.

Unfortunately, the years of catching bad guys took their toll and the time came where not even his relentless drive or unwavering devotion to his people could sustain his aging body.

Bravo Athos. You can rest easy now, we’ll take it from here and find comfort in the thought that you are watching over us no longer in pain. Thank you for keeping me safe and for being the partner I didn’t know I needed. You will never be forgotten because I will miss you for the rest of my days.”

Athos will be laid to rest at a private ceremony in the coming weeks, according to the Facebook post.