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Local police dogs M.J. and Kilo remembered for their service

MJ barks while being held by her handler, officer David Funk. Photo courtesy of David Funk.

MJ barks while being held by her handler, officer David Funk. Photo courtesy of David Funk.

The two dogs, who were both German Shepherds, passed away on Aug. 18.

M.J. lived with her handler, Officer David Funk of the Chapel Hill Police Department after her retirement. Funk worked with M.J. until 2013. Later, M.J’s older brother, Mickey, also a German Shepherd, moved into Funk’s home, too.

Funk sometimes took M.J. to local schools to meet with kids. She was a popular guest.

“M.J. was a sociable enough dog that we could go out there and catch the bad guy and play with the kids later,” Funk said.

M.J. was about 18 months old when she started her training program.

During the training program, M.J. and Kilo both learned obedience apprehensions, evidence searches, how to track, to detect narcotic odors and how to search a building.

"(M.J.) could do everything but drive a car,” Funk said.

Kilo, a former Carrboro police service dog, retired in 2014 and continued to live with his handler, Sgt. Jim Walker of the Carrboro Police Department.

“Kilo was my partner,” he said. “If I came to work, he came to work.”

Walker, Kilo’s second handler, received Kilo in 2007, when Kilo was four years old. Kilo’s first handler changed departments.

Walker said Kilo once tracked a suspect from a vehicle break-in and located him under an apartment building.

“That was the last time that we had before he retired,” he said.

Both dogs had a difficult transition into retirement.

Funk said the canines are retired once they begin to slow down.

“(Retirement) was a little tough for (Kilo) at first,” Walker said. “I’m working my second dog and he knew when I left work with another dog; he was a little upset he wasn’t going.”

M.J. had arthritis in her back legs and knees, which led to her retirement in 2013.

Funk said when police dogs retire, they usually stay with their handlers.

Like Kilo, M.J was also stressed when she wasn’t around her handler, Funk. They spent well over 10 hours a day together while working on the force.

“If she wasn’t around me she did a whole lot of whining,” Funk said. “We went to our vet, and they get pretty sick when they’re not around daddy.”

M.J.’s condition worsened when she was not around Funk and she developed separation anxiety.

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“The K-9 community is tight-knit,” Funk said. “ Nobody really knows how we do it.”

Eventually, M.J. found further companionship with her older brother, Mickey, and she began to feel better during her last few years.

Kilo, 13, died Aug. 18 due to an unexpected case of cancer.

“Kilo was like any canine: very obedient, hard working and very good at what he did,” said K-9 unit Commander Cornell Lamb of the Carrboro Police Department.

“He was a very active dog and he enjoyed life,” Lamb said.

M.J., 13, also passed away peacefully the night of Aug. 18.

“These dogs are pretty much like family,” Funk said.