He guarded the Prime Minister, sniffed for explosives, patrolled major world summits and was hailed as a hero when he tracked down an elderly woman with Alzheimer's earlier this year.
But with less than a month before his retirement to the home of a loving family, Chilliwack-based RCMP Police Service Dog Cargo died Monday after a run with his longtime handler, Const. Michael Jordan.
Cargo was born in 2003 in the Czech Republic and later purchased and enlisted in the RCMP's breeding program.
In 2006, he completed training with Jordan and began an extraordinary six-year career that would take him across the country and see him participating in many of the RCMP's most important assignments.
Cargo was involved in security operations at various major summits, including the Francophonie Summit in Quebec City in 2008, the G8/G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010, and other NATO and UN summits. He was also involved in security for the 2010 Winter Olympics. An explosive specialist, Cargo often worked with the emergency response team.
On several occasions, Cargo was tasked with guarding Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was also the star dog of an RCMP recruiting commercial often seen in movie theatres across Canada.
More than a pretty face or scowling deterrent, Cargo was also a presence on the ground, tracking down criminals and saving lives.
Along with Jordan, Cargo worked on the investigation into the EnCana pipeline bombings in Dawson Creek. He also tracked down and caught a thief who killed a person while driving a stolen vehicle; caught several bank robbers; and brought a taxi cab robber to justice.
Earlier this year, he was credited with finding an elderly Chilliwack woman with Alzheimer's who had disappeared from her Sardis home. The woman had been missing for two hours when Cargo was brought to the scene. He picked up her scent and found her in an overgrown area on a nearby property in less than half an hour.
Throughout it all, Cargo remained in the Mounties' breeding program. Over six years he sired 20 litters of puppies, the most recent of which was delivered in May.
On Monday, he and Jordan went on their post-shift run. Cargo, though, lacked energy and showed signs of distress. He was taken to a vet, where exploratory surgery revealed cancer had spread throughout his body. Cargo died that night.
Jordan was unavailable for comment, but said, in an RCMP press release: “Police service dogs love their work. Cargo worked right up until the end without any hesitation and with no previous signs of illness. He’s been a great companion and partner as we have done a lot together and he will be greatly missed."
Sgt. Rick Chaulk, of the Lower Mainland RCMP Integrated Police Dog Service, says a special bond develops between handlers and their dogs.
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog," Chaulk said. "You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
"As police service dog teams are always the front line members tasked to deal with high risk situations, called upon to locate the missing child or elderly parent, the bond between the two must be genuine and unconditional. Compound this over a working dog's lifespan, and clearly one can understand this unique relationship that coexists between handler and dog."