The Union County Sheriff's Office is mourning the loss of a search dog that's tracked down fugitives and found missing children.
K9 Josey, a 7-year-old bloodhound, was found unresponsive Sunday by her handler. They rushed her to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, but vets were unable to revive her. They believe she died of a previously undetected medical condition.
"She was one of those once in a lifetime dogs that taught you so much," said K9 Deputy Marvin Carter. His wife, K9 Deputy Missy Carter, was Josey's handler. In addition to their work with the Union County Sheriff's Office, the two work together to train search and rescue dogs and assist other counties when needed.
Josey's career started early. They got her when she was four months old, and immediately started training. She had her first successful find at nine months.
"She had a knack," said Carter. "She loved finding people."
Carter said Josey taught him and his wife so many lessons over the years, and she was really what inspired them to train other dogs. She also helped them start the Union County Sheriff's Office Bloodhound Tracking Unit.
Josey was trained to track and also to find human remains.
Josey has several kennel mates who do the same job, but they have big shoes to fill with Josey's loss.
Carter said Josey's last search was just two months ago in Grainger County, and it was a successful one. She's gone on numerous searches across East Tennessee, including in Knox County, and has over 50 live finds.
"All she wanted was a little treat and a pat on the head at the end," said Carter.
Josey was great with kids, said Carter, and visited a lot of school and community groups and events..
She will be missed.
The sheriff's office says the public can come to Trinity Funeral Home in Maynardville to pay their respects on Tuesday, Oct. 16. There will be an opportunity for people to come by from 10 a.m. to noon. At noon, the officers memorial service will begin.