CHARLESTON, Ill. (WAND) — Deputy Chief Heath Thornton has missed his best friend for a month.
"K9 Ivan was the most loyal partner I ever had," he said. "It's like losing a family member."
Ivan retired from police duty in 2016 after eight years of service. He lived out his last two years in Thronton's home.
"It was on a Sunday morning and you could just tell [it was time]," Thornton said. "He gave me the nod: 'Dad, it's time. I got to go.'"
The reminders are everywhere in Thornton's office. But he wants his partner remembered another way — with t-shirts.
"This was something I wanted to do for him," Thronton said. "He did a lot for our department. He did a lot for our community. He did a lot for me and my career."
The department is selling t-shirts and sweatshirts with Ivan's face printed on the front, honoring his legacy. The proceeds of the shirts will be used to fund other dogs following in his paw prints.
"All of that money goes back into funding our two police K9s and our program as a whole," Thornton said. "[It] also helps other smaller departments and smaller communities have a police K9 program of their own."
Even in death, Ivan is still proving to be a good boy.