CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Police work takes dedication, focus, and bravery. Veteran K9 Rico has those qualities in spades.
"It's been a long career, and we've done a lot," said Cpl. Jeff Hartwig, Rico's handler for nearly 9 nears. Rico and three other K9's showed off their skills at a Saturday morning pancake breakfast to raise money for Marion's K9 unit.
"None of our dogs have been sponsored by taxpayer money, it's all by donation," said Chief of Police Harry Daugherty.
This was also Rico's retirement party. He's been Cpl. Hartwig's loyal partner since 2005.
"They'll go into any situation for you, but then as the handler, every year that bond grows and grows with that dog," Hartwig said.
Rico's smart as a whip, and still responds to commands, but his age is starting to show. The city will now pass ownership off to Hartwig and his family, who Rico's been living with.
"My wife fell in love with him, the kids love him," said Hartwig.
Rico will pass the torch to rookie Fador, who does everything Rico could.
"He can apprehend, he can track, and he can find any kind of explosive," said Chief Daugherty.
Fador will create new memories with his partner, just like Hartwig remembers the day he and Rico caught a suspect who led police on a high-speed chase.
"We happened to be working that day, and we went to the scene," Hartwig recalled, "so we tracked him and located him in the woods."
With nearly a decade of chasing and detecting behind him, Rico's got nothing but tennis balls and lots of love to look forward to.
"I think he's ready just to lay down, take it easy," Hartwig said, with Rico at his feet.