In memory of Zeus

Zeus, a Belgian Malinois, died recently after a distinguished law enforcement career with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Zeus, a Belgian Malinois, died recently after a distinguished law enforcement career with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Special to The Telegraph

The life of a law enforcement officer has always been noble, rewarding and challenging. These days though it seems there are even more dangers and risks than ever before for those brave officers who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.

Please know how grateful I am to the law enforcement community for the sacrifices made to keep us safe. Part of that law enforcement community also includes the highly trained K-9s who work in partnership with officers and put their lives on the line daily as well.

One such K-9 working for a time with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was a handsome, immensely intelligent Belgian Malinois named Zeus. He was the K-9 partner for veteran Monroe County sheriff’s deputy Chad Beck.

Deputy Beck has been with the sheriff’s office for about 17 years as one of the fine officers patrolling busy Interstate 75 from High Falls Road in north Monroe County all the way south to the Bibb County line. Then in November 2009, deputy Beck learned he would be getting a new partner. It would be Zeus.

Becoming partners with a K-9 is quite an involved process. Zeus was located at a training facility in Sanford, North Carolina, where he had been undergoing the rigorous training as a single-purpose K-9 that would be able to alert for drugs. Those skills would come in handy on the interstate connecting Georgia and Florida.

Once Zeus was trained, deputy Beck had to be trained with him in North Carolina as well. So for three weeks Zeus and deputy Beck studied, practiced and drilled while deputy Beck observed Zeus’ intensity and zest for his job.

Drills, drills and more drills were done as this team of handler and K-9 continued to excel, graduate and go to work in Monroe County. But something else happened along the way. They bonded. They were partners. They were companions. They had each other’s back.

Zeus had his share of success in finding drugs, drug money and even assisting in arrests of suspicious motorists pulled over for some sort of violations. His intimidating appearance, his keen sense of smell, his focused intensity and his determination typically resulted in locating a substance or a perpetrator.

And every time he and deputy Beck pulled a car over, their lives were at risk. They were in danger of interstate traffic speeding beside them. A car could have struck them.

They were in danger because of the uncertainty of the vehicle’s occupants. They were approaching a vehicle they stopped for a violation not knowing what hazards lay within the car. They were potentially putting themselves at risk with every car they pulled over.

Yet they did it anyway. That’s what they were trained to do. And they did it well.

But then Zeus started to experience problems with his knees and joints. His mobility became more difficult. The veterinarian indicated the problem would not improve and Zeus should retire.

So in 2010, Zeus made the transition from fierce K-9 to loving family member with deputy Beck, his wife, Reagan, and two daughters. He spent his time playing ball, playing with water bottles and chewing anything he could. He delighted in going on trail rides with the family’s horses.

He was the source of love and security for the Beck family. That is until recently when the otherwise healthy, impressive Zeus fell terribly ill. He was in the hospital a couple of days before coming home in his familiar environment surrounded by family when he passed away.

While the family mourns his loss, Monroe County mourns losing an exemplary member of their law enforcement team. Central Georgia CARES will honor Zeus at my birthday party from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 25 at Georgia Industrial Children’s Home on Mumford Road and you’re invited.

Thank you, Zeus. Thank you, deputy Beck. Your service and sacrifice are deeply appreciated.

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