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Officer Josh Marlow with K-9 Baks.

A nice steak seems like a fitting main dish for a retirement meal.

Forget the steak knife in this case, though, because the retiree is a 9-year-old Mooresville Police Department K-9 named Baks.

His MPD handler and off duty master, Officer Josh Marlowe, said prime cut of meat was just the beginning of a fitting retirement for the dog he’s worked with since 2013.

“I’m going to make sure that as his dad, he’s living a good, stress-free life with lots of treats and toys,” Marlowe said. “He’s got a huge doghouse and a pool, and he has it made.”

Baks’ last day on the job was July 24. The pair began working together in 2013 with the Landis Police Department, and often trained in Mooresville with MPD. The trips led to Barlow “falling in love with the area” and coming to Mooresville permanently in 2016.

With his partner.

“There was a lot of opportunity for training and growth here, so I made the switch,” he said. “The Landis Police Department was kind enough to donate Baks to Mooresville, because MPD was short on K-9s at the time.”

Baks served as a dual-purpose K-9, trained in narcotics detection, apprehension, tracking, officer protection, and area and article searches. Other dual-purpose K-9s at the department include Cyrus, who works with Cpl. Ed Gallagher, Valor (with Officer Andrew Beck), Hansel (with Officer Jesse Scott) and Ramon, who worked with Officer Jordan Sheldon, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in May.

The department’s other K-9, Sadie, works with Officer Dan Walther as a narcotics-only dog, and she is primarily used in the Mooresville Graded School District.

Baks and Barlow went to training school for three months when they were first paired together, and trained for four hours every Monday.

“If you don’t use (the skills), you lose them, so remaining proficient is very important,” he said. “Having a K-9 is a big commitment.”

Barlow said Baks’ strength was narcotics detection, and that the K-9 played a role in several hundred drug arrests.

“There was a jump-and-run case once where the driver was a felon on probation, and he had two guns with the serial numbers scratched off, money and drugs in the car,” said Barlow. “Baks was able to track him and he was sent back to federal prison.”

While catching criminals was a big part of Baks’ job, he also served as a bridge between Barlow and the community.

“People are attracted to K-9s and ask about them, which makes building a relationship easier,” he said. “Whether it was a hardcore criminal or a good person who had a bad day, everyone who got in my vehicle would eventually start asking about Baks and it opened up a way to have a civil, productive conversation.”

While he meant business when on duty, Baks would leave work at work, Barlow added.

Off the job, Baks is “very lovable and wants to give constant kisses,” Barlow said. “It’s really interesting, because it’s like flipping a switch. He’s so friendly, but when he’s in work mode, it’s serious, because he knows he has a task to accomplish.”

Barlow also is making a career shift. He will serve as Langtree Charter Academy’s first school resource officer.

“I was a substitute teacher for awhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed being a positive influence on the kids,” he said. “As their first SRO, I know the importance of making a good name for our agency in this position, and I’m excited about it.”

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