BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Bosco, the Bedford Heights police K-9 who has been caught in the middle of a controversy that captured nationwide attention, spent the first few moments of his hard-earned retirement playing in the yard at the home of his partner of the last five years, officer Ryan Kaetzel.

“It’s awesome. It’s totally awesome,” he told FOX 8 News. “I’m smiling again.”

The case sparked a public outcry when Kaetzel revealed that Bedford Heights police initially agreed to let him keep Bosco when he transferred to another department. But Kaetzel said the offer was withdrawn after he filed a federal lawsuit seeking back pay for taking care of Bosco away from work.

Amid criticism from pet owners across the country, the city had a change of heart on Thursday and decided to return Bosco to officer Kaetzel.

“I do understand that people have their position on what should happen and what should not happen and I’m sure that comes from a very emotional love for animals,” Mayor Fletcher Berger told FOX 8 News.

Before the city decided to return Bosco, it was clear that the public relations problem was not going away. In fact, protesters were planning a major demonstration at the police station over the weekend. The protest has now been canceled.

“I just want to say thank you very much. I appreciate it,” said Kaetzel. “The support was overwhelming and appreciated from the bottom of my heart.”

Still to be determined is what happens to the $15,000 donated by animal lovers around the country to a GoFundMe page to pay for a new K-9 to replace Bosco.

Organizers of the fundraising campaign have said that they are considering — among other things — a plan to donate the funds to local animal shelters.

The mayor of Bedford Heights said the two sides are now working to finalize an agreement that certifies Bosco’s new status as a “stay-at-home” retiree.

“There was never a need for this media attention. There was never a need for all this back and forth,” Berger said.