Hunter, a longtime L.A. County Fire Department rescue dog who has helped find numerous people in disasters in California and abroad, was honored on Thursday with a hero's farewell.
Hours later, Hunter was put down. He was terminally ill with acute kidney failure and experiencing seizures and in a lot of pain, his family said.
His partner of many years, fire Capt. Bill Monahan, choked up as he described Hunter's service as a live-find search dog.
"He made his mark," Monahan said. "He's 15 1/2. And he's lived the life of a rock star."
Hunter, a border collie, helped save four lives in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Monahan said.
"We had never rescued a live human being going back to Oklahoma, 9/11," Monahan said. "So this was a milestone."
Later that same year, Hunter became the first nonhuman to be named firefighter of the year. The canine also helped out in the Japan earthquake in 2011. And before that, he worked the 2008 Chatsworth train derailment and other tragic events.
Monahan's wife Tammy said Hunter helped get her through chemotherapy.
"He's going to leave a hole that can't be filled," she said.
On Thursday, Hunter was honored with a trip to Fire Station No. 136 in Palmdale and then surrounded by family at a park in Fullerton, where he ate cheeseburgers, french fries, a milkshake and a cake. It was the first time he'd ever been served human food.
Hunter was then taken to a veterinarian in Garden Grove, where he was put to sleep.
Monahan said he has refused to get another dog since Hunter retired from service in January.
"I could not duplicate him," said Monahan, adding he plans to retire also. "But I'm going out winning the Super Bowl."