In Greek mythology, Orthus was a fierce, two-headed hound with a serpentine tail. His job was to guard the herd of red cattle that belonged to his master, a three-bodied giant named Geryon.
On the Miami-Dade Police Department, Orthus was officer K287. His job was sniffing out explosives at Miami International Airport with his partner, Sgt. David Dominguez.
Orthus did this so energetically that he became a reality-TV star on the Travel Channels Airport 24/7: Miami.
Orthus was plenty menacing if anyone got near Dominguezs squad car, but nosing his way through the MIA terminals, the black-and-tan German shepherd was a big, furry attention magnet.
Wed take pictures with people, or give small children baseball cards featuring Orthus in lieu of petting, said Dominguez, 42.
Orthus, who joined the department in 2007, died Jan. 10 by humane euthanasia. He was 8, and had medically retired in July due to inflammatory bowel disease and hernias, Dominguez said. Then he developed a fast-growing cancer.
Its hard looking in the rear-view mirror and not seeing him in the back, said Dominguez, a 20-year veteran who had two previous K-9 partners.
Dogs, he said, are the best partners in the world.
Orthus was the first to concentrate exclusively on explosives, giving luggage, packages, and secure areas at MIA the sniff test. Whenever Air Force One brought President Barack Obama to town, Orthus swept the tarmac with his hyper-sensitive nose.
He once alerted to residue on a bag that had escaped bomb-squad inspection, said Dominguez,
Orthus and Dominguez paired up during a 10-week Transportation Security Administration training program at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and were inseparable thereafter.
Off duty, Orthus lounged around the house with the four Dominguez kids and Tebow, the miniature Schnauzer, or chased tennis balls in the yard.
He was a family dog, but he loved going to work, said Dominguez, a Westwood Christian School and Florida International University graduate. When he saw me getting dressed, hed go sit by the door.
It was exactly that kind of eagerness that attracted Airport 24/7 producers in late 2011.
When we worked with MDPD, we looked for people with great personalities who were eager to share their story, said Shari Cedar, executive producer. That describes both Orthus and Sgt. Dominguez.
very kind dog
The crew accompanied the partners on outdoor security sweeps and vehicle checks. In the terminals, Orthus wore a camera vest so that viewers could see the area from his point of view, said producer Mark Clark plus a bit of his ears.
Clark called Orthus a very kind dog. Very personable. This was a really cool dog.
Orthus will be remembered with an engraved brick paver at the Miami-Dade Police K-9 Memorial in Tropical Park, joining pavers representing 429 other deceased dogs that served with departments in the county back to the 1960s.
The names of seven dogs that lost their lives in the line of duty are engraved on the memorials Wall of Honor.
Orthus remains were cremated, said Dominguez, who keeps the dogs collar in the squad car.
In his partners last moments, all I could say was, Thank you, Dominguez said. I had my hand over his nose so that his last smell was me . . . It was an honor to work with him.