His whole life, Bronx worked a 40-hour work week as a member of Bakersfield Police Department’s K9 Unit. Every day, he began his shift at 6 a.m. and patrolled the streets, searching for criminals, almost always taking them down.
“He searched for hours,” said Senior Officer Christ Dalton, Bronx’s owner and handler. “He would never quit — he wanted to work the whole time. The confidence I had in my dog was tremendous.”
After his eight-hour shift ended, he went home, played and relaxed for evening, ate dinner and went to bed, knowing he would wake up the next morning to do it all over again — until recently.
After serving the department for eight years, Bronx, the nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, worked his final shift on Jan. 5, 2018. Due to the department downsizing the K9 Unit, according to Dalton, it was time for Bronx to retire.
ADJUSTING TO RETIREMENT
Since his retirement, he and Dalton, 39, have had to adjust to their new lifestyles.
Instead of chasing and catching bad guys, Bronx now spends his time chasing cats out of the backyard. He enjoys relaxing on the first pool step and playing with his family, including Sadie and Sassy the pugs.
But how can someone take a hard-working, active dog — whose sole purpose was to fight crime — out of his element and expect him to like retirement? You don’t.
“He for sure seems bored,” said Dalton. “He wants to go to work. I think he feels like he’s lost a little bit of his worth because he isn’t working.”
Bronx still thinks he’s going to work when Dalton puts on his uniform, but Dalton leaves for work without him. Bronx watches him get in his patrol car and howls for 10 minutes or so, hoping Dalton will come back for him.
And when Dalton is at work, he often finds himself grabbing Bronx’s leash and reaching to open the back door to let out his long-time partner, but he’s no longer there.
“It was a hard adjustment,” said Dalton, who has been with the department for 14 years. “You always knew you had someone there watching your back. Now when you’re working midnight (shifts) alone, now you’re worried.”
After months of intense physical and mental training when Bronx was just a puppy, he was ready to hit the streets and fight crime.
One of Bronx’s biggest moments in his career was when he boarded a helicopter to go on a manhunt in Weldon in 2015, searching for a suspected killer.
“His knack for finding bad guys was amazing,” said Dalton. “He had a nose for it. You put him in a 300-yard radius (of the bad guy), and he would lead me to him. ”
Bronx was very good at finding criminals in hiding. He found criminals under trap doors and through walls.
“He was agile and methodical,” said Dalton.
He climbed ladders, cleared six-foot fences and launched off of Dalton’s shoulders to reach high levels. He could even fit in small spaces, earning him the nickname “Houdini.”
One of Dalton’s favorite memories on the job with Bronx was his first “engagement,” or the first time he bit a criminal.
“Oh my goodness, my dog works,” Dalton remembers thinking. “He did exactly what he had to do. I knew he was going to be a really good dog. Some of our finds were amazing!”
Bronx had quite a stellar career with BPD. Not only is Bronx one of BPD’s longest-serving K9s ever, but he’s also received a number of awards. Bronx won the Top Dog award at the Kingsburg K9 Trials in 2012 and received an award for Top K9 Deployments from the National Tactical Officers Association. Bronx was also the first dog to permanently be assigned to the BPD SWAT team.
PLANS FOR RETIREMENT
Now that Bronx is retired, he is able to explore more. Before, Bronx wasn’t allowed to go out of town. It was against policy, but now Dalton has plans to take him to the beach for the first time.
Until then, his retirement days are filled with play time with Sadie and Sassy. He and eight-month-old Sadie enjoy destroying their toys together, while Sassy, 9, likes to give him kisses.
When he’s not playing with the girls, Bronx likes to go to the park and the Kern River.
Although retirement isn’t ideal for Bronx, he’s keeping busy. And although Dalton and Bronx no longer spend all day together, Dalton is thankful for the “amazing partner” he had and all the memories they created.
“It’s undying loyalty,” Dalton said. “He would do anything for me, as I would do anything for him.”