Losing a friend is never easy, and that's just as true of animal companions. So when one Washington police officer had to bid goodbye to his K-9 partner, a family from his local community knew just what to do.
On Christmas Eve, the Pasco Police Department in Washington state shared a photo of Officer Josh Madsen standing with boxes of donuts and a wrapped gift. This wasn't just any present, though — it was a stuffed animal that resembled the late dog, Lemon.
"This afternoon Officer Madsen was gifted an amazing tribute to K9 Lemon," the police department explained in a Facebook post. "Some time ago the Berg family had a special interaction with Lemon and Officer Madsen on a call, that had a big impact on their lives. Today Cassandra, Nia and Bentley dropped off a gift. They took several pictures of Lemon and had them sent off to make a smaller version of Lemon to give to the Madsen Family. It was a great reunion and we are so thankful for their permanent reminder of #K9Lemon!"
Cassandra Berg also provided Washington's KREM with video from the moment Madsen opened the gift, which shows the officer tearing up. One of the children can be heard in the background telling the officer that the stuffed animal "looks just like" the late K-9.
Berg didn't share the specifics of how her family knew the dog, but she told KREM that meeting Madsen and Lemon had helped her through a difficult time. "He pretty much put my family back together ... I hadn’t seen my kids so happy," Berg said. "[Madsen] gave us hope back and faith that everything was going to be OK!"
Berg added that having the stuffed animal custom-made was "the least I could do for him" after the officer's help.
KREM reported that Lemon died earlier this month after suffering a "medical crisis." He and Madsen had worked together for eight years. Before his death, Lemon had emergency surgery in October and retired from the force in November.
"Our hearts and condolences go out to Officer Madsen and his family during this difficult time," the police department said in a statement provided to local outlet KEPR. "We also wish to thank our amazing community for the outpouring of love and support during the last few weeks for Lemon and his family."
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