Wednesday was a bittersweet day for Police Officer Kevin Wells. “Today, I’m losing a partner, but I’m gaining a pet at home,” Wells said.

Since June 2011, Wells has had a constant companion in his patrol car — canine Ruger, a German Shepherd that recently was officially retired because of a genetic back disability. Ruger was honored for his service at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting.

“This is a sad day for me and Ruger,” Wells said, of his partner who became a certified officer three and a half years ago. For Ruger, Wells said, going to work wasn’t work, but fun.

During his years on the police force, officials said Ruger conducted 300 narcotics searches, which ended in about 200 arrests. The K-9 also tracked 25 missing persons and about 100 suspects. “He also helped on over 200 calls for service,” First Selectman Michale Tetreau said, and not just Fairfield police, but to assist other area departments as well.

When the K-9 program was reinstated four years ago, Chief Gary MacNamara said, there was a groundswell of support from the community to support acquisition and training expenses. Ruger’s costs were covered 100 percent by donations, including many school children.

The dog’s name was inspired by one of those financial supporters, locally based gun manufacturer Sturm Ruger.

The retirement ceremony took place almost four years to the day that Ruger started to show signs of pain, MacNamara said. Wells said the dog’s back disability is not uncommon with the breed, and while the dog can still be a pet, he can no longer meet the strenuous demands as a police dog and risk further injury.

“It’s a very sad day to see an otherwise healthy, contributing member of the department” retire, MacNamara said. “The good news is his injury will not prevent him from living a long life.”

This is not the end of the department’s K-9 program, MacNamara said. The department plans to replace Ruger, and hopes to expand the program to include a second dog.

Wells said he hopes to continue to be part of the program, adding there is plenty of room at his home for two dogs.