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Burnet’s K-9 Kuso retires to the couch

Burnet Police Department K-9 Kuso

Burnet Police Department K-9 Kuso retired on June 29 after six years of service to the city. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

K-9 Kuso has retired from collaring criminals after six years with the Burnet Police Department. The city threw him a party on Thursday, June 29, with roughly 40 well-wishers in attendance.

The 8-year-old Czech shepherd was deployed 455 times during his career, resulting in over 223 arrests and 190 seizures of drugs and firearms and physical apprehensions of suspects.

“He’s had an incredible career,” Police Chief Brian Lee said. “He’s been utilized by 15 different agencies in the area, including callouts where he’s assisted other agencies. He’s also worked in seven different counties.”

The Burnet City Council approved the acquisition of a K-9 in 2016, and a team of officials, including then-Police Chief Paul Nelson, Capt. Jason Davis, and Fire Chief Mark Ingram chose Kuso at the Hill Country Dog Center in Pipe Creek.

Kuso hit the Burnet streets in April 2017. 

“We watched several demos of dogs perform (at the center), all with great ability and attributes,” Davis said. “When we saw Kuso perform, we all kind of looked at each other and knew he was coming home with us.”

The dual-purpose Kuso’s versatility has been a major asset for the department, Chief Lee said.

“He has the ability to detect narcotics and can also track and do apprehensions,” he said.

Lee said Kuso’s relaxed demeanor when not on the job sets him apart from other police dogs he’s encountered during his lengthy career in law enforcement.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being around K-9 programs for about the last seven years of my career, and I can honestly say there are very few K-9s you can find that have the temperament that he has,” the chief said. “He’s pretty docile, easy to approach, and always willing to come into your office and crop dust you with his hair so you know he’s on duty.”

Kuso started his career with Officer Mark Edwards before working with Officer Jose Meza, who passed away suddenly in December 2019. The BPD invited Meza’s widow, Cristina, to the retirement ceremony to speak about her husband’s time with Kuso.

“Kuso, I’m sorry you had to experience loss, and maybe to an extent, felt abandoned,” she told him. “I promise you that Jose did not give you up willingly. I will forever be grateful for you being Jose’s partner for the year that you were together. You helped him fulfill his dream of being a K-9 handler.”

After Meza’s death, Lt. Jeremy Stewart became Kuso’s final handler. The pair formed a strong bond over the last few years.

“Kuso is not just my partner, he’s my best friend,” Stewart said. “In the last three years, I’ve spent more time with him than my family. He’s had to put up with my conversations, my music, and the time spent in my office when doing reports. I love Kuso, and I’m proud to have him as my partner.”

Now retired, Kuso will spend his days lounging on the couch at Stewart’s home.

“I’m grateful for all of Kuso’s hard work and amazing numbers,” Capt. Davis said. “I’m thankful he will be able to go and live a life of leisure and relaxing on the couch.”

The department has posted a job listing for a new K-9.

“We are going to replace the position, but we’ll never replace Kuso,” Chief Lee said.