LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Bobby Boody remembers Drake, his retired K-9 companion, as he was before he was shot four times and died from his injuries last year.
"He died defending the house, and that's really what his purpose was," said Boody.
"It portrays him in a positive manner, and in a way that I'd like to remember him. Healthy, and vibrant and full of life."
FHP Trooper Robert Ivey worked with Drake when he was in service. He said Sunday's unveiling of a memorial wall in honor of Drake and twenty-two other K-9's keeps their memories alive.
"They're never forgotten," said Ivey. "I'll never forget Drake. He was my first dog, and I'll absolutely never forget him."
Black plaques on the memorial wall are for dogs that were killed in action. Above it, an eternal flame sits. The focal point of the monument is a life-sized, bronze sculpture of Drake, created by artist Jocelyn Russell.
Veterinarian Ken Simmons said having this monument at his facility, the Simmons Veterinary Hospital, gives the dogs what he believes they deserve.
"Trying to get these dogs from what they are currently classified as, literally, equipment, depreciable equipment with no value when they are retired, to dogs that deserve some sort of hero status," explained Simmons. "I was pretty moved by the outpouring of the community and the world when Drake passed."
One other change happened because of Drake's death. A movement began after he died, to create the Florida K-9 Bill of Rights. It will give dogs veterinary benefits even when they go out of service, and it maintains their status as law enforcement dogs, in their retirement.
Drake never had a public funeral, so for Boody, the memorial helps remember the dog who gave his life trying to keep Boody's home safe.
"It's a very heartwarming experience, being here today," said Boody. "To see all the support I've received from the law enforcement community and the public."