Detroit officer mourns K-9 partner

By Ben Schmitt
The Detroit Free Press

DETROIT For seven years, Detroit Police officer Robert Huckestein cruised the city streets with Cavar, an 80-pound, full pedigree German shepherd known for his natural tracking abilities.

During Cavar’s tour, he serviced thousands of police calls and won the department’s medal of valor in 2001 for tracking down an armed man hiding on top of a garage. Cavar was the only department K-9 to receive the honor.

Huckestein, 36, who works in the Tactical Services section, lost his partner last week and he’s still coming to grips with it.

“Everyone knew him,” Huckestein said Wednesday. “I’d bring him out after roll call and everybody would run to my car to pet him.”

Last week, Huckestein discovered that Cavar had terminal cancer. He had him put down on Halloween. Cavar was 9.

“I took it really hard,” Huckestein said. “It’s tough. I wanted to bring him home one last night and the doctor told me he wouldn’t make it.”

Huckestein hasn’t gotten up the nerve to break the news to his 11-year-old son, Joseph, who splits time between Huckestein and the boy’s mother.

“He had a couple tests at school and I didn’t want to spoil his Halloween,” Huckestein said. “I plan on telling him this week.”

Cavar, nicknamed “Old Man,” by Huckestein had recently developed arthritis in his spine. Huckestein planned to retire him in January.

“I just told him: “Old Man, you’ll be retired soon and you’re going to have the run of the house,’ ” Huckestein said. “But he never made it that far.” Huckestein expects to get another dog.

Outside of work, Cavar loved to run and loved affection.

“He was a great police dog, but after work he’d come up to you and want you to pet him,” Huckestein said. “He knew his job and did it well. He was one of Detroit’s Finest in every way, and was part of my family.”

Copyright 2007 Detroit Free Press

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