WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio - One by one, family and friends paid their respects to K-9 comrade Kubo Casto at the DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home in Willoughby Hills on Tuesday.
The German shepherd served faithfully for a decade as an officer with his Richmond Heights police partner and owner Tim Casto.
"I've already been back to work a couple of days and it's a lot different… Changed every aspect of my day now, changes, doing things a little different," Casto said.
Police officers from surrounding cities showed up in large numbers to show support.
[Click to see a photo gallery of Kubo's funeral: http://5.wews.com/jGukE ]
Richmond Heights Police Chief Gene Rowe said Kubo won't be easily replaced.
"A K-9 has capabilities that far exceed any officer or any number of officers; the idea of getting him replaced is certainly not going to be easy," Rowe said.
Throughout his 10 years of service, Kubo did numerous demonstrations for D.A.R.E., day care centers, outreach centers, churches and schools. Kubo competed in the northeast Ohio "Top Dog" competition in 2009 and 2010.He took "Top Dog" honors in 2009 and First Place in 2010, according to Casto.
He said Kubo was certified in narcotic detection, criminal apprehension, tracking, article searches and building/area searches. He was responsible for locating numerous amounts of narcotics and cash, making the community safer for its residents.
Richmond Heights police credit Kubo with finding a missing 7-year-old girl and an Alzheimer's patient. They said he also successfully made 13 major criminal apprehensions and arrests during his career.
"People would start to run away, would flee a scene and Tim would simply say ‘Halt or I'll release my K-9' and they put the brakes on immediately," Rowe said.
"He was my baby. We had routines that we did. If my husband and I were on the couch, he was right there and somebody at the door he sounded like a ferocious beast, but to me he wasn't," said Tim's wife Kelly Casto.
She has helped take care of Kubo since he was a pup as he lived with the Castos and their daughter, Brittany. Kelly Casto said she never imagined this day coming.
"I just thought of him as my pet at home, not a hometown hero and it's overwhelming for the community and support, DeJohn what they have done for us," Kelly Casto said.
Taps played as he left the sanctuary; and fellow k-9 officers seemed to recognize the moment and calm down in a show of respect.
"We had certain spots around the city that just he and I would go to play. And I went to one of those spots the other day, and instinctively got out of the car and opened the back door, thinking that it'll take me a while to realize that he's gone," Tim Casto said. "But he's right here, he's always got my back."
Kubo was born in Germany in 2001 and started training in June 2003.