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Saugus says goodbye

Spenser Hasak’s photo on the front page of The Daily Item Friday spoke as eloquently about love and loss as reporter Bridget Turcotte’s story chronicling Saugus’ farewell to police patrol K-9 Bruin.

Officer Timothy Fawcett, his face wracked with anguish, took a final walk with his partner of eight years. Diagnosed weeks ago with terminal cancer, Bruin spent his last minutes Thursday with Fawcett following a salute by police officers and town residents.

Thursday’s procession of honor had the feel of an outpouring of emotion from an earlier time when people were more inclined to halt the course of their day and assemble to pay their respects. Children made signs and flashing blue lights filled Main Street, Hamilton Street and other streets as the procession wound its way to a Wakefield veterinarian’s office.

The procession brought together a town well-versed in standing as one behind its athletes, behind residents facing a serious health challenge, and behind its police department.

Thursday’s turnout was as much a salute and tribute to Fawcett as it was an opportunity to salute his four-footed colleague. Bruin, Fawcett and Saugus Police Lt. Michael Ricciardelli visited the Oaklandvale School last week to help students celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The same students who admired the K-9 and received an explanation of his exploits turned out with signs and letters on Thursday to watch the procession pass.

Second-grader Alena Bruzzese offered one of the more poignant tributes to Bruin when Turcotte quoted her as saying, “He leads people to safety.”

Anyone with a pet understands the bond between people and dogs and cats that seems improbable on some levels and unbreakable on others. The fact that people like Fawcett who take an oath to protect others do so with K-9 partners encompasses the most elemental love we have for animals and the trust we put into the hands of men and women — and dogs — who protect us.

Animals have the power to help heal people and to drive loneliness from their lives. They sense danger before people perceive it. They give love unstintingly and they ask for very little in return. Fawcett and his comrades ended Thursday with sad hearts but in possession of a great gift their friend gave them and gave Saugus.

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