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CASTLE ROCK, Colo (KDVR) — A few dozen people and their dogs gathered outside Castle Rock police headquarters Wednesday evening to honor a fallen officer. 

K-9 Ronin passed away unexpectedly in February after doctors found tumors near his heart. 

His handler, Officer Todd Thompson, says Ronin was committed to service down to his final moment. Squad cars gathered Feb. 8 outside a Castle Rock veterinary clinic for his end of watch. 

“He — out of the corner of his eye — caught all of the emergency lights,” said Thompson. “He actually got up and you could see him forcing himself up one last time to look out the window, and he was barking and whining at all of the patrol cars because he knew he was going to get to go to work. And unfortunately, I had to tell him tonight was not the night we were going to get to go to work.”

Tuesday, members of a Castle Rock dads’ group presented Thompson with a carved wooden plaque, featuring a picture of Ronin and his end of watch.

Zachary Smith, who makes wooden flags to honor fallen officers, also surprised Thompson with a flag.

“I was able to feel his pain because my father actually lost his service dog last week,” said Smith. “If it gives them something that makes it easier to grieve, then that makes me happy at the end of the day.” 

Thompson says the support from Castle Rock, and from the entire state, has been overwhelming. 

“We have gotten letters and pictures drawn by children,” he said. “And not just Castle Rock, not just Colorado, but all over the United States, we have gotten sympathy cards. So that helps us get through it, and it’s day by day.”