BRIGHAM CITY -- Members of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department are mourning the loss of one of their own this week with the sudden passing of Kosmo, one of the department's two police dogs.
Kosmo, a 9-year-old Rottweiler, died Tuesday after being diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
His loss has been felt most by Deputy Brandon Yates, who worked his first graveyard shift in years without his "Hero Kosmo" on Thursday night.
"Whether I was at home or whether I was at work, or whether I made a trip to Smith's ... he was always with me, always ready to go," Yates said.
"He was a dark dog, so if you got out of bed at night, you had to look to make sure he wasn't under your toes."
Yates bought Kosmo as a personal pet in 2002 when the dog was just 9 weeks old.
For a year and a half, the pair trained together as Kosmo became certified in the detection of narcotics.
While most police dogs join the force at 1 to 2 years old, Kosmo was 5 when he was purchased by the sheriff's department and added to the canine unit.
Kosmo was sociable, even as a puppy. He got his name in part from his way of bursting into a room and sliding all over the floor like Kramer on "Seinfeld."
When he entered the sheriff's department, he loved to run around the building and say hello to everyone there, and he especially loved to visit the office of Sheriff Lynn Yeates for a dog treat.
Kosmo was well-known throughout the community as well -- he always had doggy treats waiting for him at Schifty's, a popular gas station in Brigham City.
Yates said, at home, Kosmo had some kind of secret pact going with his 3-year-old son that involved Goldfish and Cheetos.
"Nothing ever hit the floor with him around," he said.
Much to Yates' chagrin, Kosmo often blew his "tough dog" image when he did demonstrations in public because he was so good with a crowd, even if it was 300 first-graders.
As friendly as he was, Kosmo had a switch that flipped him to serious when he was on the job.
"He was like a lineman," Yates said. "He had all the muscle to put you right where he wants you."
Kosmo never actually had to go after a person, but he had a bark that made suspects think twice about what they were doing, Yates said.
"It made me more comfortable just knowing that if (anyone) gives me trouble, I can just push the button on my belt," Yates said. "He was always keeping an eye on me."
Yates wears a remote control device on his service belt that opens the door of his patrol car so Kosmo could help him when trouble erupted.
Yates said he had already planned to retire Kosmo next year and had already purchased another Rottweiler puppy, just two weeks before Kosmo died.
At 4 months old, Tonka is far from being a member of the force. He isn't old enough yet for police to know if he will make a good police dog.
"All he does is sleep (on patrol), so he doesn't have much going on," Yates said. But for now, his mere presence helps ease the pain of losing Kosmo.
While it will be about a year before he can go through all of the training and certification, Yates said he picked Tonka because he was "Mr. Curious" and was the first in the litter to approach Yates.
"He picked me out like Kosmo picked me out a long time ago," he said.
Kosmo's unexpected death will ultimately leave the sheriff's department without its own police dogs. The other dog, a German shepherd named Helix, is scheduled for retirement in mid-December.
The sheriff said he is making every effort to maintain a canine unit, but he didn't plan on having to replace both dogs in the same budget year.
Yeates said police dogs are valued at about $10,000, which includes the investment required to train both the dog and the deputy. They can be certified for patrol, narcotics, tracking and explosives.
Yeates said having two dogs is preferred because one dog can be on duty during each shift. However, it may become necessary to have just one dog for a while.
In the interim, Yeates said he will be able to use the police dogs with the Brigham City Police Department or the Utah Highway Patrol when needed.
"Having a canine department is very important," Yeates said. "(The dog) is another officer, just a lot closer to the ground and a lot more nasty."