It was a somber occasion as police officers lined the streets of Philadelphia to say a special farewell to their four-legged colleague.

A rookie Lower Merion police K-9 who had been working on a security detail in the five-county region for seven years was forced to resign Monday after a tumor was discovered in her heart. Police officers and staff from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Canine Center were on hand to escort her.

“She has a long history with Penn. She has a long history with me. I brought her as a puppy from Chicago to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, where we raised and trained her,” recalls Dr. Cindy Otto, the center’s director. K-9 was one of the first to be trained at the center.

The newcomer has had notable accomplishments in her career, including work at the Democratic National Convention and a detail when Pope traveled to Lower Merion. She worked on bomb detection, tracking suspects and finding missing people.

“She would find missing people. We had a couple of searches. Sometimes we would have kids go missing and she would lead us to them or lead us in the direction of where we would find the missing child,” said Patrolman Eric Curcio of the Lower Marion Police Department.

Curcio described how the dog has served in various jurisdictions, helping with nighttime searches. The rookie was an “ace” and one of the best working dogs the patrolman had seen in his career.

For seven years, Rookie partnered with Officer Jeffrey Simmons. They worked together, walked together, lived together.

Until last week, she was still working and training, but then she suddenly passed out. Veterinarians found an incurable tumor on her heart.

The Simmons family headed down to say goodbye to their beloved dog. As family members escorted her to Penn’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital, police officers — some with their K-9s sitting in front of them — stood at attention and gave a final salute as Rookie walked through the doors.

“It’s a hero’s send-off, and that’s what we want,” Simmons’ brother said.

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