A heartbroken firefighter has said goodbye to his beloved K-9 partner after training it for eight years.
The 15-year-old Labrador, Tianfu, died of illnesses associated with old age on Tuesday in south-west China. Its handler, Zhu Guoping, bid farewell to the search and rescue dog before sending it to be cremated.
The 15-year-old Labrador, Tianfu, died of illnesses associated with old age on Tuesday. Its handler of eight years, Zhu Guoping, bid farewell to the dog before sending it to be cremated
Mr Zhu bids farewell to Tianfu before sending it to be cremated in Chengdu, Sichuan province
Tianfu was the oldest search dog in the Chengdu fire department team and was most remembered for finding the first survivor – a woman in her 50s – in the 2010 Yushu earthquake in Qinghai.
Wiping away tears, Mr Zhu told Chendu Business News that he knew he would have to say goodbye one day, but when the day actually came, it still hurt.
Tianfu was awarded a prestigious meritorious service medal after his death.
Heart-breaking footage of Tianfu’s cremation shows his teary-eyed handler, Zhu Guoping, gently stroking the its body and saying goodbye for the last time.
He was also seen re-adjusting the black Lab’s position on the gurney to make sure it was comfortable for its next journey.
He was also seen nudging and tickling Tianfu as if hoping it would wake up and jump into his arms.
Mr Zhu says he knew he would have to say goodbye to Tianfu one day eventually
Send-off: Holding back tears, the handler says goodbye to his beloved dog for the last time
The heroic Lab was awarded a prestigious meritorious service medal after his death
Alas, Tianfu remained still, with its eyes closed.
Fighting back tears, Mr Zhu signalled the technician to push the button.
‘A very special dog has fought side by side with us for eight years – but it all ends here,’ the Chengdu fire department said in an obituary on Weibo.
‘Our oldest search and rescue dog, Tianfu, has died. Let us say goodbye to this very special hero,’ it added.
The fire department also posted a clip of Tianfu in action seven years ago, when it first met Mr Zhu in Sichuan.
The search and rescue dog team was first set up in 2010, and Tianfu was one of the six dogs recruited from the local police.
The search and rescue dog team of the Chengdu fire department was first set up in 2010 and Tianfu was one of the six dogs recruited from the local police
Mr Zhu and Tianfu seen working at the Yushu earthquake site in China in April 2010
In three years’ time, Tianfu has been deployed to the frontline of various mass casualty events
The video shows a young and excited Tianfu barking and jumping around during its training, ready to take on any challenge.
In a natural disaster scenario demonstration, it was seen efficiently covering ground while sniffing, searching and quickly identifying the lost person.
In three years’ time, Tianfu has been deployed to the frontline of various accident sites and mass casualty events, saving many lives.
In 2010, it participated in emergency response efforts in a mine explosion in Dazhou, a landslide in a quarry in Leshan and the massive Gansu mudslide.
It also worked at the Ya’an earthquake in 2013.
However, it was most remembered for rescuing the first survivor in the devastating magnitude 6.9-Yushu earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 2,600 people.
Tianfu hard at work: Thanks to its training and excellent scent-detection skills, it quickly homed in on a woman buried under the debris at the devastating 2010 Yushu earthquake
Rescue team members pulled out the woman immediately, making her the first survivor
Video of the rescue mission after the quake shows a serious-looking Tianfu covering the rubble
Footage of the rescue mission after the quake shows a serious-looking Tianfu donning a bright orange vest and covering the rubble, desperately searching for any sign of life.
Thanks to its training and excellent scent-detection skills, it quickly homed in on a woman buried under the debris. Rescue teams were able to pull the survivor out immediately.
It was a challenging mission for rescue efforts due to the high altitude – 4840 metres – of the scene at Yushu, with temperatures dropping to -4 degrees. Many emergency team members suffered from altitude sickness.
In the search and rescue mission in the Gansu mudslide back in 2010, Tianfu continued to work for three hours non-stop, trying to find survivors.
‘It refused to rest even though it is clearly exhausted,’ Mr Zhu said.
Tianfu searches for survivor at the 2010 Yushu earthquake that killed more the 2,600 people
Mr Zhu says in an interview that Tianfu wasn’t only his partner, but he was his family
He added that he has kept one of Tianfu’s teeth as an amulet.
‘He definitely earned a place in Heaven,’ Mr Zhu said, referencing his beloved dog’s name, which means ‘heavenly palace’ in Chinese.
Net users across China mourned the death of Tianfu, commending its heroic actions.
‘Thank you for all your hard work, Tianfu. You are an angel indeed – rest in peace,’ said one.
‘I am so touched by this beautiful story,’ another said. ‘It is true when they say a dog is a man’s best friend.’