A retired New Milford K9 officer has left a lasting impression in the hearts of Sgt. Brian Glasser's family.

Onyx, 12, a German shepherd who retired in December 2010 from service with the New Milford Police Department, died March 29 at the home of his handler, Sgt. Glasser.

"He had a great personality. He was like a friend," Sgt. Glasser said. "He was a great partner. I knew if I called on him, he would be right there. I took him everywhere with me. My family loved him."

From November 2003, when then Officer Glasser took over as Onyx's handler, the two became inseparable. The dog slept at Officer Glasser's home, played with tennis balls and loved to ride in the car.

Onyx came from the Czech Republic at a cost of $5,000. He and Officer Glasser took an eight-week class to learn to work together, instructed by then Sgt. William Scribner.

"Onyx was a great police dog," said now Lt. Scribner. "He served the town well for many, many years. He came to us through an international breeder with a lot of his training done in Germany in the German language. He finished his training with us."

Trained to smell out narcotics, Onyx also tracked criminals, missing people and could take down suspects on the run. He and Sgt. Glasser worked with area police departments, the FBI and the DEA over the years.

Onyx was both respected and loved in the New Milford community.

In 2004, children and parents from the Almost Home Childcare Preschool held a fundraiser and bought a made-to-order Kevlar vest for Onyx. Custom fit, it protected him from gun shots or stab wounds.

Along with his serious side, Onyx had a heart full of love.

"He was a great dog," said Meryl Bennett, Brian Glasser's older sister. "He was full of life, full of love. He fit in well as a family dog."

"My stepson, Collin, 11, absolutely adored Onyx," she added. "They would lay on the floor and play together. He will be missed."

At this time, the New Milford Police Department has one K9 unit, a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Kira and her handler, Officer Michael Lanfond.

The department anticipates adding a second dog in August, also from the Czech Republic.

tuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322