DARTMOUTH — Bristol County Officer Mike Bettencourt got in his cruiser, put his four-legged partner in the back seat and pulled out of his driveway on Nov. 7.

All morning, he repeated it over and over to himself.

“Don’t look.”

As he drove past his house, he couldn’t help himself.

He turned and looked at the front window, where K9 Ryker was staring at him with his paw on the glass.

Bettencourt and Ryker via Bristol County Sheriff's Office

It was Ryker’s first day of retirement, and the first day of the training academy for Bettencourt’s new partner, Kofy (pronounced coffee, like the drink).

Bettencourt saw Ryker in the window. He pulled over and started crying.

“It was heart-breaking,” Bettencourt said. “That first day is the toughest.

“He’s living the retired dream now. He runs around the house, lounging around. But he still cries when he hears my keys and waits by the door in the morning. I take him for rides in the cruiser sometimes. He loves going for rides.”

Ryker, an 85-pound German Shepherd, retired last month after seven years as Bettencourt’s partner. The 9-year-old dog has health issues and was approaching the retirement age of 10.

Ryker is a patrol dog, meaning his training is specifically for tracking people. He’s been utilized over the years to find suspects who flee crime scenes or mentally challenged seniors or children that wander away from home. Bettencourt recalled how Ryker helped the New Bedford Police Department Gang Unit track down a suspect in the South End.

“They were a great team,” Bristol County K9 Capt. Paul Douglas said. “They came to work every day and did everything that was asked of them. Ryker has been a great member of the Bristol County family for many years. We’re all going to miss him.”

Kofy is the newest member of the K9 unit. He is a 65-pound, 16-month old Belgian Malinois who is learning skills like pursuit and tracking scents, but the most important lesson early on is teamwork and building a bond with Bettencourt.

Kofy is ahead of schedule in the basic academy and will graduate early in 2019. A year later, he will begin training to detect illegal drugs.

“He’s doing great,” Bettencourt said about his new partner. “He’s a machine.”

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit is available to assist every local and state law enforcement organization in Bristol County every shift, every day. The unit is also very active in the community, most notably putting on demonstrations to increase awareness and education about police dogs, and collecting toys and gifts for children in foster care during the holidays. Contact the BCSO for more information about the K9 team.

— Bristol County Sheriff's Office