Finding Joy in retirement: former K-9 officer still wants to protect and serve

Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 12:41
Retired University of North Texas K-9 officer Joy is proof that police never really leave the badge behind.
Retired University of North Texas K-9 officer Joy is proof that police never really leave the badge behind.

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Meet Joy. She’s a Belgian Malinois who proudly served the University of North Texas Police Department as a K-9 officer for eight years. On May 4, 2016, Joy retired, but her partner Corporal Bredger Thomason did not, and, since they are still roommates, this created some tension.

“I’d put on my uniform and she’d get really excited,” Thomason said. “She’d run around the house wanting to leave with me. In her mind, she was still on the force.”

To fix the problem, Thomason relied on problem solving skills he’s developed as a police officer to outsmart her. When he’d get ready to go to work, he’d put on workout clothes and pretend to be heading somewhere other than UNTPD. He’d change into his uniform when he got to the UNTPD, then back into his gym clothes before heading home, all so his former partner wouldn’t know he was fighting crime without her.

“I have to tell her every day that I am just going shopping instead of going to work,” Thomason said.

The two share a special bond because they’ve been through a lot together. In Joy’s time on the force, they played a significant role in decreasing the possession of drugs on campus, especially in the residence halls and parking lots.

Even though it’s clear that Joy, who’s now 13 (or 96 in human years based on her age and breed), doesn’t want to leave the badge behind, she has a new lease on life. Joy spends her time going anywhere she can with her former partner, Corporal Thomason – just not to UNTPD.

“She enjoys the country, she still loves her Kong toy,” Thomason said. “When I head out to work on the fences on my property or other outdoor projects she’s always by my side.”

While it’s obvious that retirement has been a tough pill for Joy to swallow, Thomason takes a moment to pause and take note – he misses working with her, too:

“After Joy’s retirement and while responding to calls without her, I would have these fleeting feelings of panic that I had left her in the car, only to quickly realize she is not working with me anymore,” Thomason said. “Although I lost a patrol partner, I was fortunate to maintain her as a member of my family.”

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108