METHUEN (CBS) – Ivan, a police dog who made more than 700 missions and 73 apprehensions during his career, was laid to rest on Thursday.
The longtime partner of Essex County Sherriff Lt. John Pickles, Ivan served in the narcotics patrol unit of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department for five years.
The 6-year-old German Shepherd died of complications from Lyme disease on on Valentine’s Day in 2017. The dog’s ashes have been kept inside Pickles’ home since then.
“It just felt right to keep Ivan in our home because he was such an important member of our family, but now the time has come for him to receive the honors he is due, and I’m so grateful that we can bury him in such a special place, alongside other canine heroes,” Pickles said.
On Thursday, Ivan was buried at MSPCA’s Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery alongside several “war dogs,” who served their country in the armed forces and were buried with similar honors.
Officers from the Methuen Police Department stood guard during the funeral ceremony, which began with a prayer and the playing of taps.
A flag-wrapped urn containing Ivan’s ashes was lowered into the ground beneath a granite headstone bearing his name.
“This is a very sad time for me and my family, and Ivan’s passing is also a tremendous loss for the force,” said Pickles. “I’m so honored to have spent six years with Ivan as both a colleague and a friend and I’ll miss him forever.”
As part of the department’s K-9 unit, Ivan worked to ensure public safety through building checks, fence checks, common area searches, inmate living area searches, narcotic searches and crowd control.
Through the Heroes at Hillside program, police dogs such as Ivan are buried at no cost to their owner.
“Ivan served with distinction and unwavering courage and we are honored to lay him to rest at Hillside Acre Cemetery,” said Dave Gordon, who manages the cemetery for the MSPCA.