Bubba, the Anne Arundel County police dog who assisted in more than 100 arrests during 11 years of service, died over the weekend after a long bout with cancer.
The German shepherd made headlines for helping apprehend thieves and purse-snatchers. But his friendly way with others made him so popular that hundreds of people chipped in to pay for his medical treatment.
"It was his personality that made him," said Cpl. Keith Baumann, Bubba's handler. "He was so social and friendly with people."
Bubba managed to postpone retiring for two years after the life-threatening disease was diagnosed in 1999.
"He took his medicine and kept on going," Baumann said.
One night after Bubba received chemotherapy, he and Baumann responded to a call that three men breaking into vehicles in Glen Burnie had run from police. Bubba chased them behind a department store, and Baumann made the arrest.
Bubba was trained to use force if necessary. But off duty, he was a different dog, living with Baumann and his family.
When police funds for treating Bubba ran out, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called for help and more than 650 people responded with donations totaling about $30,000 to help Bubba.
"He was the epitome of German shepherds," said E. Joseph Lamp, a member of the society's board. "He was such a tough guy. He was tall and strong and had all of the Rin Tin Tin-type color in him, with the mixture of brown and black."
The fund-raising drive got the attention of the U.S. Secret Service, which invited Lamp, the Baumann family and Bubba to the White House a few years ago.
They toured the grounds, then Bubba waited in the car while Lamp and the Baumanns peeked inside the Oval Office and played with President Clinton's chocolate Labrador, Buddy.
When cancer forced Bubba to retire, he would wag his tail as Baumann put on his uniform, then follow his former handler to the door. Baumann would pat the dog on the head, then go to work with another German shepherd.
"It was kind of sad to leave my old partner there at the door," Baumann said.
When Baumann returned from work, Bubba was waiting.
As Bubba's health worsened, he tried to get around, but his spine was deteriorating and he often fell. Baumann had Bubba euthanized Aug. 30.
Baumann is adjusting to life without his former partner. And if his new partner or any of the other four-legged members of the county's canine unit fall ill, nearly $20,000 remaining from Bubba's fund will be available to help pay for treatment.