MOUNT DORA – Officer Adam McCulloch of the Mount Dora Police Department announced the retirement of his K9 partner, Officer Stryker, on Wednesday after he sustained an off-duty injury, forcing him into retirement after three and a half years of service.
“It’s truly heartbreaking,” McCulloch said. “I’m losing a partner but we’ve had some great times and many accomplishments to be proud of.”
While away on vacation, McCulloch learned that Stryker suffered from an embolism, which resulted in two surgeries to repair a disc in his spine and a blood clot. Stryker is now in recovery and going through physical therapy at his home.
According to McCulloch, the bond between a handler and a full-service dog is unlike any other.
“I see him more than I see my own family,” he said. “We serve long shifts together and then he stays at home with me and my family.”
McCulloch said he will miss working with his partner and best friend, stating that he has an on/off switch when it comes to work and play.
“At home, he’s a big puppy, always playful and happy,” he said. “But he knows when it’s time for work and gets the job done. He loves to hunt and do training to find items and get the bad guys.”
McCulloch recalled a few of their best accomplishments including a two and a half hour search and a traffic stop that resulted in two arrests and the recovery of many illegal substances and weapons.
Officer McCulloch and Stryker also attended schools and community events, stating that everyone loved Stryker and seeing him serve the community.
Stryker will continue to reside with McCulloch’s family as he continues to recover from his injuries.
Stryker is set to retire on December 2. The Mount Dora Heroes Foundation K-9 program has taken on all of Stryker’s medical expenses to show their appreciation for all he has done for the Mount Dora community.