The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office bade farewell last week to a beloved colleague: Officer K9 Axel, 13.

The German Shepherd, who served in the department for about eight years, received a hero farewell.

A vigil was held Monday at Chase Farm Veterinary Hospital in Dartmouth, followed by a “final outing” Tuesday at Angel View Pet Cemetery and Crematorium in Middleboro.

Axel was accompanied to the facility by police vehicles from Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, New Bedford, Raynham, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea and Taunton as well as representatives from the Massachusetts Environmental Police , Massachusetts State Police, New Bedford Animal Control, and Norfolk and Plymouth County Sheriff’s Offices.

Axel’s cremated remains were returned later in the week to his owner and partner, K9 Sheriff’s Office Officer Brennan Bulgar.

The tribute was well deserved, said Captain Paul Douglas, who oversees the sheriff’s office canine division.

“It’s what they deserve,” said Douglas. “Our dogs are special, they put their lives in danger. They are four-legged officers. ”

For Bulgar, the show of support brought comfort during a painful time.

“I cry in the morning, I cry in the afternoon, I cry at night,” he said.

He described Axel as his “partner and best friend”.

Axel started training with Bulgar when the dog was two years old.

“We bonded on that first day,” the officer said.

Douglas quickly recognized the connection.

They shared “unconditional love,” he said. “Whatever Brennan asked him to do, he did. They were a great team. ”

Axel had an ideal temperament for a police dog, Douglas said. The captain noted that Axel was professional and hardworking on shifts, then playful and relaxed outside of work hours.

Over the years, the bond deepened as the two worked together. Axel could sniff out narcotics and search for missing people.

One of his most successful cases occurred just before his retirement, during a raid on a business in Bristol, RI Axel found a ‘mother’s vein’ of narcotics, Douglas said, including ‘tons Of cocaine and marijuana. “It was like a pharmacy,” he said.

But it was not his only success, Douglas said “he had a lot of finds”.

Axel was retired by the division at about 10 years old, in July 2019, as is typical of Sheriff’s K9s office, Douglas said. He went to live full time with Bulgar and his family.

But in recent weeks, Axel was not himself. He barely lifted his head to greet the family, a time when he was normally jumping and excited, Bulgar said.

A trip to the Chase Farm Veterinary Hospital brought the news all pet owners dread: Axel had cancer and the disease was spreading. “There was nothing else for him to do,” said Douglas.

“He was so weak,” Bulgar said. “I didn’t want to see him suffer.

Axel was therefore euthanized with his beloved master and his colleagues in the K9 Division by his side to support him. “Axel was loved by everyone,” Bulgar said. “It was very, very important that everyone come together” at this painful moment.

“It’s the worst part of being a K9 officer,” said Douglas.

Bulgar is now working with a new canine partner, Eros, who is 2.5 years old.

But Axel will always hold a special place in his heart, he said. “I come home expecting him to be there,” he said.

Bulgar is grateful that the law enforcement community has rallied around him and Axel.

“He was my best friend and a friend to all,” he said.