The Sarro-Truken family of North Attleborough, Mass., was looking for a way to honor the memory of their beloved chocolate Lab, Brittany, who died two years ago.

They looked to Vested Interest in K-9s Inc., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit dedicated to providing protective vests to law-enforcement K9 units. But where to donate the $1,006 protective vest for a deserving police dog?

Robert Truken, a union lineman who had been working for United Illuminating and CL&P recently, had jobs in Fairfield working on the power lines for a UI project. "We go wherever the work is," he said.

Some of Truken's local jobs included sites where Officer Kevin Wells was on special-duty assignment. Wells also is the town's K-9 officer, and has been working with the K-9 "Ruger" for just over a year.

The two men began to talk about dogs, and their discussion led Truken's family to decide to purchase a vest for Ruger. Truken, his wife Jennifer and stepsons William and Anthony Sarro all made the trip to Fairfield on Tuesday to see Ruger sporting the new vest.

"Our first day on the road, we probably could have used the vest," Wells said, recalling a manhunt last year for a murder suspect that he and Ruger joined as well as officers from several departments. "It would have been a perfect scenario, because you never know what's going to happen."

Wells said he has been training Ruger to wear the protective gear so the German shepherd becomes used to it. "When he first put it on, he hated it," Wells said of the vest.

But if the dog were sent on assignment without acclimating to the vest, Wells said, "he's not going to act normally."

Ruger, however, is getting used to wearing the vest, which includes an embroidered message from the Sarro-Trukens.

"We're really thankful for the donation," said Sgt. Suzanne Lussier, a department spokesman. The Police Department has invested a lot of time in training Ruger, she said, noting the dog has often been used when executing search-and-seizure warrants.

People can make a donation to Vested Interest, which has a waiting list of departments in need of the K-9 vests, or purchase a vest through the nonprofit for a local K-9 unit. For more information about the group, visit www.vik9s.org.

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