Kyle Bridges will say goodbye to his partner Thursday.
It won’t be easy. He and Lyas have been together since 2012, but it’s what must happen.
Bridges, a deputy with the Canadian County sheriff’s office, said his K9 partner, Lyas, was diagnosed earlier this year degenerative myelopathy or Cauda Equina syndrome. The diagnosis will eventually leave Lyas, a German shepherd, with paralysis.
“It came on fast and furious. It was lot faster than any of us expected,” said Bridges.
Lyas joined the department as a narcotics and search dog in 2012. He was 2 years old.
He was medically retired in July.
Bridges said that the rapid progression of the disease has forced the decision to euthanize Lyas. That ceremony will occur Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at a Yukon veterinary clinic.
“Frankly, this sucks. He is my third dog, and my other two are still living,” said Bridges.
The pair worked numerous drug interdictions together along Interstate 40.
“He was the best all-around do I’ve had. That dog could track bad guys like nobody’s business,” he said.
He also was among the largest of the department’s eight police dogs.
“He’s a very gentle giant,” Bridges said.
So much so that Bridges had no problem incorporating him into his family, which includes a 4 ½ year old son and 1-year-old daughter.
“My son has asked about him. It is one of those things. I knew the time was coming, I just didn’t expect it this quickly,” he said.
Since his medical retirement, Lyas has been staying with Bridges’ father, Maj. John Bridges, also with the Canadian County sheriff’s office.
John Bridges said Lyas doesn’t feel any pain, but his hind legs often go out from under him because of the paralysis.
”They slowly start losing the feeling and use of their back legs, and it works up their spine until they are paralyzed,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where he drags his back legs.”
John Bridges said the department is following the veterinarian’s recommendation.
“He is an excellent dog. He was one of the best tracking dogs we’ve had. He was a great dog all the way around,” he said.
In addition, he’s been a good pet since he retired.
“My wife and I have gotten very attached to him. We know it’s time. We don’t want drag this out,” he said.
Lyas’ retirement brings to two the number of K9 units retired in recent months by the sheriff’s office.
Monday, the sheriff’s office requested that the department’s bomb dog be considered surplus so that it can be moved to another department.
During the county commissioners’ meeting, officials were told the bomb-detecting police dog has been taken out of service because he doesn’t fit the needs of the department.
Officials are searching for a new department to place the dog with.
Sheriff Chris West said the department doesn’t have a need for him because the agency doesn’t have an active bomb squad.
Despite the loss of the two dogs, the Canadian County sheriff’s office still has six active police dogs, John Bridges said.