WARREN CO. Ky. (WBKO) -- It was no accident that K-9 Gunner was partnered with Warren County Sheriff's Sgt. Curtis Hargett; Hargett hand picked him.
"The first dog that I came to he actually ran out of the kennel and it took me forever to find him, so I didn't want to have to deal with him. The second one, when I opened that kennel up, he was just spinning in circles like crazy. And then when I got to this guy, when I opened up the door he just jumped up and put his front two paws on my shoulders and then licked me in the chin, so I didn't need to see any of the other dogs after that.
The rest is history. K-9 Gunner went on to serve Southern Kentucky for seven years by Srgt. Hargett's side, winning awards across the country and helping lock away criminals along the way.
"There was a cartel that was based out of California that had some local people here involved with it, and we had a huge hand to play in dismantling that. Probably one of my all time great cases with Gunner," recalls Hargett.
After all those years of hard work, Gunner has earned retirement. Lovingly nicknamed "G-Man" by some of the deputies, it's been bittersweet for everyone to let him go.
"He's always been there when I called him, and he's never let me down," explained a member of the Drug Task Force, who must remain anonymous due to the nature of his job.
Deputy Robert Smith and his K-9 "Titan" have stepped up to fill Gunner's position. Smith is under no allusion that rising to that challenge will be an easy task.
"Me and my dog have really big paws to fill. Gunner and Curtis have set the standard extremely high."
Srgt. Hargett says he and Gunner are both still getting used to Gunner's retirement, but that in no way has meant saying good-bye. Gunner will live out the rest of his life surrounded by love from the entire Hargett family.
"He's put on a few pounds and enjoys hanging out with the family, and movie nights and all that fun stuff. Not having to worry about waking up in the middle of the night anymore."
It's a retirement that is very well earned.
"It's just crazy. For seven years that's all I did and now it's over, but it was definitely the best seven years of my career."
For protecting and serving South Central Kentucky even when it meant putting his own life in danger, we honor K-9 Gunner as our Hughes and Coleman Hometown Hero.