HAZLET — Hazlet police officer Kevin Geoghan, wife Maria and K-9 partner of 8 1/2 years, Memphis, a 10-year-old German Shepherd, take a final walk together between a lineup of Hazlet police officers, area K-9 police officers and their partners, mostly German Shepherds, and a lone bagpiper.
On Monday, about 40 people and 11 K-9s gathered at the Red Bank Veterinarian Hospital in Tinton Falls to pay their respects as Memphis, who has been on the Hazlet police force since 2003, was being taken to the hospital to be euthanized.
About three weeks ago, Memphis was diagnosed with cancer. He just recently stopped working, and was due to retire in May, Geoghan said.
"He almost made it," he said.
Recently, Memphis was losing weight and having trouble walking, the dog's veterinarian MaryBeth Morgan said. She ordered an MRI for the dog, but prior to the MRI did an X-ray screening. The screening showed multiple cancer nodules in his lungs.
"This (deciding to euthanize the dog) was an unselfish act, the final act of love," she said. "Kevin (Geoghan) came to terms with his decision and did not want Memphis' quality of life to suffer any further."
Officers from the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Keyport, Union Beach, New Jersey Transit, Holmdel and Manville attended the service.
"We should do this for our K-9s," Monmouth County sheriff's officer James Fay said. He was at the service with his partner, Falko.
Police Chief James Broderick said Memphis was the department's first and only police K-9. Police dogs usually only work for five years, he said; however, Memphis was a strong dog and continued his career for an additional time.
"He was a worker. He has more than 100 narcotics arrests and numerous criminal arrests," he said.
He also cited Memphis for locating the burglars at the Middletown Sears Department store a few years ago. "Memphis could find anyone."
The officers at the service agreed the event was a tragic one.
Holmdel police officer William Bernard said when an officer has a K-9 for a partner it is a 24/7 bonding.
"We are with our dogs more than we are with our families. We are home with the dog and at work with the dog, we are always together. It is a great lose," he said.
Manville police officer Joe Duda and his K-9, Justice, said Geoghan and Memphis went through the Police Dog Academy together. He agreed it was a sad time for everyone present.
Melissa Brett, a resident of Hazlet, went to the service to show her support to the Geoghan family.
"I went to school with Kevin (Geoghan)," she said. "I've known Memphis since Kevin got him." And, as everyone had stated previously, she said "the dog was always businesslike and ready to work."
The other K-9s present were Mako, a Belgian Malinois, with his partner Patrolman Chris Tuberion of Union Beach. The following K-9s are all German Shepherds; Jack with partner Patrolman Joe Ruth of Keyport; Bo with partner Ed Joos, NJ Transit; Grey with partner David Newsham and Ikon with partner Sgt. Tom Johnson, both of the Port Authority; Ari with partner Joseph Aretino and Cida with partner George Jelks, both of the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office; Dogi with partner Joseph Van Pelt and Harley with partner William Bernard of Holmdel.
A few months ago, Geoghan said he got another German Shepherd because he knew Memphis was due to retire in May.
"Memphis was a bit jealous," he said. "He knew I was going to work with Diablo." However, in his heart he knows Memphis could and would never be replaced. "He was a great dog."
"You would run out of ink if I were to list all the arrests he made."