LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - La Crosse police are saying goodbye to a long-serving member of the department.
They held a retirement ceremony Monday for Ralph, the dog that helped re-launch the department's K-9 unit. Ralph joined the department in 2008 after community donations made a K-9 program possible.
At 10 years old, he didn't let his old age get in the way of his police work.
He finished in first place at this year's U.S. Police Canine Association's national drug detection trial with a perfect score and helped La Crosse police make two big drug busts in February.
Police Chief Ron Tischer says Ralph has been with the department even longer than he has, and he will be missed by everyone, especially those he worked with every day.
"Dogs never have anything bad to say or do to anybody," said Tischer. "(There is) this bond that they develop because they train together, they live together, they work together, they're in a squad car together for 8 hours a day, and normally those people relationships can get kind of trying at times, but with a dog it's just different."
Ralph's replacement, Luc, was also sworn in and received his badge Monday.
Ralph will be spending his retirement at home with his now former partner, Officer Tony LeQue.
He says it won't be the same riding in the squad car every day without Ralph by his side.
"Every day he's on the street with me, for the past five years, it's going to be odd going to work without him, but I think he'll enjoy his retirement," said LeQue.
Ralph is turning in his collar and badge after 8 years of duty for the La Crosse Police Department, or 56 "dog years."
Officer LeQue says Ralph's retirement plans include lots of bird hunting. With Luc replacing Ralph on the force, the police department will still have a total of four dogs in its K9 unit.
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