Tears flow as aging military dog gets hero's sendoff in Lakeland

A retired military working dog was honored with an emotional goodbye by his veterinarian in Lakeland.

Robson's handler lovingly called him 'Robbie.' The dog retired from the Air Force in 2014 after spending almost seven years as a bomb sniffer.

His service included supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

"He was my husband's bomb dog. They did all kinds of trips together," said owner Erin Simpson. "When they were deployed, he found a large weapons cache with multiple weapons and explosives and I know that had to have saved multiple people."

After his service was complete, Robbie took on a new mission as a member of the Simpson family and David Simpson's service dog.

David flew all the way to Germany to get his former partner and bring him home back in 2014.

"He enjoyed working, but he enjoys his time off better," David told FOX 13 at the time. "We're best friends."

But David died in 2017 -- "[Robbie] was the last link we had to David," Erin tearfully noted -- and age began to catch up with Robbie.

"Robbie was 13 years old so it got to the point where he got to a really good life and his old age was taking over," said Linda Gordon, hospital manager at All Creatures Animal Clinic in Lakeland. "When we got word that it was his time, we wanted to do everything we could."

The staff at All Creatures Animal Clinic put together a final walk tribute last week.

Joined by the esteemed Lakeland Police Department K-9 Unit, they offered a tearful last goodbye befitting Robbie's life of dedicated service.

"It meant a lot. It was able to give Robbie the honor he deserves," Linda said.

"Everybody who watches that video is going to know that he was here and he did great things and his life was worth value," Erin added. "And now he and David are together, and will be together forever."