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K-9 Alamo's handler and best friend talks about love and grief; suspected cause of Alamo's death found

His partner, Officer Nathan Mayhugh, said, “I felt like my heart was stomped. He wasn’t just a dog. He was my best friend, and we had an unbreakable bond."

BARLING, Ark. — Barling’s K-9 Alamo died unexpectedly on Aug. 30 at just three-years-old, a heartbreaking loss for not just the Barling Police Department (BPD), but for the community that Alamo served and protected.

Alamo, described as a loyal, strong-willed dog with an excellent work ethic was a patrol K-9 at BPD, certified in narcotics, tracking, personal protection and criminal apprehension.

Alamo’s body was sent for autopsy after a dedication service was held in his honor. A suspected cause of death has been found.

Barling Chief of Police, Darrell Spells said, “While a definite cause could not be determined, there was fluid found around his heart which raises the possibility of some type of cardiac episode.”

No one felt more grief and loss over Alamo’s passing more than his handler, Officer Nathan Mayhugh.

When asked about the moment he first realized his partner had passed, Officer Mayhugh began to answer, but after only a few words, he had to pause. As he fought back tears, the love he had for Alamo could be heard in the silence.

A few moments later, determined to honor Alamo, Officer Mayhugh said, “I felt like my heart was stomped. I didn’t think it was real. I love and miss him dearly. Some days have been harder than others. Every day when I put on my uniform, I know he is up there watching me. He wasn’t just a dog. He was my best friend and partner, and we had an unbreakable bond.”

Credit: Lex Rodriguez at Lexar Photo

RELATED: Barling Police say goodbye to loyal friend, fellow officer, K-9 Alamo

K-9 Alamo was cremated, and his ashes are kept on a shelf in Officer Mayhugh’s home, along with a photo of Alamo and the flag that was draped over him at the service honoring his dedication and loyalty to BPD and the Barling community.

“From the first day we went on patrol together, he was always by my side and always in the patrol unit with me,” Mayhugh said.

Officer Mayhugh and K-9 Alamo were together 24/7, as they worked together and lived together.

Mayhugh described Alamo as a loving, loyal and playful dog, but he explained that due to K-9 training and the job they did together, he had to be extra careful when off-duty and around others with Alamo.

“Alamo loved people, he loved to play and at heart, he was always a dog. But at the end of the day, he was a working dog, so I had to be cautious when we were around others.”

A dog’s love for his owner is one of the most unconditional loves that can be found, so it is understandable that for Alamo, due to his training and the time spent on the job with his best pal and partner, his priority, at all times, would be to protect Officer Mayhugh. And that kind of loyalty is a beautiful thing.

Credit: Lex Rodriguez at Lexar Photo
Credit: Lex Rodriguez at Lexar Photo

While Mayhugh is still grieving the loss of Alamo, he says he would like to have another K-9 partner, and the process of finding BPD’s next K-9 may begin later this year or in early 2021.

K-9 Alamo left big shoes for BPD’s next K-9 officer, and he can't be replaced, but with Officer Mayhugh’s skills, dedication and love, his next partner will be ready to serve the Barling community.

On Wednesday (Sept. 16), the Barling Police Department (BPD) recognized K-9 Alamo and Officer Mayhugh for their service to the City of Barling and surrounding communities.

River Valley Animal Hospital and Crawford County Coroner, Pam Wells, were also recognized for their compassion and commitment after K-9 Alamo's passing.

Officer Mayhugh wanted to send a personal thank you to Pam Wells for the care and empathy she showed to him and BPD after Alamo's passing, the River Valley Animal Hospital, who provides veterinary care to BPD's K-9 officers and to MARS Petcare in Fort Smith, who donates all food for Barling and Fort Smith K-9 officers. 

RELATED: Barling officer helps child leaving school barefoot in rain; Buys car seat for a dad in exchange for child safety restraint ticket

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