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PARADISE (CBS 11 NEWS) – It was not your usual funeral procession in Paradise, Texas. Dogs panted as they trotted into the church at the sides of their handlers. And the memorial service was often interrupted by a bark or growl.

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More than 200 people showed up for the service. They came from all over North Texas. Many were law enforcement officers, many had their K-9 partners with them. It was an unusual sight. But Wise County K-9 Officer Pepper was not your usual dog.

(credit: Joel Thomas/CBS 11 News)

(credit: Joel Thomas/CBS 11 News)

On January 28 Pepper, his handler and four other law enforcement officers were approaching an armed suspect hiding in the woods.

“When released and given the command to engage, Pepper did exactly what he was trained to do,” recalled Wise County Deputy Sergeant J.T. Manoushagian, Pepper’s partner and handler. “He ran in front of us as we held our positions and looked danger and ultimately death directly in the eyes. Just as he was engaging he shielded each of us with his body making it impossible for the suspect’s rounds to reach any of us.”

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K-9’s are officers… and this officer died saving the lives of five others.

“Pepper’s sacrifice insured that there is not a newly wed widow sitting in the front row this church,” Sgt. J.T. Manoushagian said during the service, as he fought back tears. “His sacrifice insure that none of these officers children were left without fathers mothers without sons and no colleagues left without a brother.”

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

The service was dedicated in part to celebrating the lives of the people saved by Pepper. And Wednesday, those people gave Pepper his final call.

“Wise County to all units,” the dispatcher who was on duty the day Pepper died said over the police radio. “Canine Pepper has answered his final call. End of watch January 28, 2015. You have done well Pepper. We’ll take it from here.”

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