Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue members are mourning the loss of a K9 member.

Luke was on active duty for seven years and assisted in countless searches and tasks.

“His golden personality represented us well at parades and public events,” Comox Valley SAR said in a Facebook post. 

“His life of service kept him fit, healthy and energetic – just shy of 15 years, he was never too old to let his inner puppy out to play. His gentle soul will be missed. Rest easy Luke – we’ll take it from here.”

Search manager Paul Berry said the golden retriever was a valuable team member.

“Luke was one of the first search dogs that I worked in close contact with, and it was a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to watch him develop from a puppy to an adult dog and to see his instincts come out.”

Berry added that it was also “amazing” to see him work with K9 handler Chris Smith.

“Chris is one of the preeminent handlers in the province and has led SAR dog training as the president of the BC Search Dog Association for many, many years and has certainly encouraged many of our other team members to take on this very, very demanding role,” Berry said. “On top of all the other regular training, it requires hours and hours and hours of dedication to your dog, and Luke was a huge ambassador for our team.”

Dogs are often the first resource that SAR members bring in when they are actively beginning a search. 

“If we can get a dog that can get into the field and pick up the scent of our subject quickly, we can narrow down our search area and reduce the number of human resources that need to get into the field,” Berry said.

B.C. has roughly 20 search dogs and Luke was one of the few on the island. When other teams needed them, Luke and Smith would travel to wherever they were needed.