Deputy Jeremy Prickett hoped to let his longtime bloodhound partner, Gus, retire within the next year or so, not wanting the 8-year-old dog to work for the rest of his life.
But anytime he left his trusted tracking companion at home, Gus would go nuts.
“My wife said he would bark and go crazy for a long time after I left. He wouldn’t be quiet, because he loved what he did,” Prickett said.
Gus, who has been with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office since he was a pup, died Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Capt. Brad Rounds said the dog “fell out” and went limp while out with Prickett.
“He couldn’t even pick up his head,” Rounds said of Gus.
Gus would eventually end up at Murrayville Veterinary Clinic on Thompson Bridge Road, where he died around 4 p.m. Tuesday. A funeral procession carried the 8-year-old bloodhound from the vet to Little and Davenport Funeral Home Wednesday afternoon on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville.
Prickett said Gus looked good Monday and Tuesday morning, even jumping up like he wanted to play.
When recalling the past few days, Prickett said he was called out to help with a missing child in Jefferson late Saturday night into early Sunday morning when a deputy reported a suspect running away near Harrison Square Apartments.
“Gus tracked right through the apartment complex and down into the woods. … We hit a retention pond, so he did jump in the water and circle the water around the edge,” Prickett said.
The suspect was later captured, and the pair headed back down to the Jefferson call.
Gus’ end of watch was announced over the police radio.
“It broke my kids’ hearts. My oldest daughter, she couldn’t go to school today. I dropped her off and had to turn around and pick her back up,” Prickett said, as his “goofy” Gus had become a full-fledged member of the family.
Rounds said he does not believe the incident was related to the heat but said he was concerned about recent reports about blue-green algae that can be fatally toxic.
Gus’ body will be sent to the University of Georgia for an autopsy.
“Gus and all of the dogs at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office serve the community admirably, but they’re so much more than that,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement. “They’re partners with their handlers, loved companions at home and friends of the public at outreach events. Gus was all of these things. He’s apprehended countless suspects over the years, and was an amazing dog. Everyone in the department will miss him, but for his handler, Deputy Prickett, and the Prickett family, the loss will be greater.”
Gus was “a legend” to law enforcement, Prickett said. His nose has sniffed in counties across the Northeast Georgia region, and Prickett said his partner could still outrun and outlast him.
“If someone ran on us in the woods and we let Gus out and he got the scent, let me tell you something: The only way you’re going to get away from him was if you got picked up by another vehicle or something. He was spot on,” Rounds said.
With a canine partner, there were days when Prickett spent more time with Gus than his own wife and two daughters.
“Sometimes I’m in the truck with him for 12 hours a day, and sometimes when I get home my family is already in the bed. He’s just part of the family. He’s like my brother,” Prickett said.
Bella, a bloodhound in training, has been getting up to speed over the past year.
“She ran a few tracks with him and she’s been training side by side. She’s been doing good, but of course, she’s not Gus, and I still don’t trust her like I did him. I still depended on him all the time,” Prickett said.