Alison Schmitt, a police officer with the MTA canine unit,...

Alison Schmitt, a police officer with the MTA canine unit, poses with her dog, Mac, at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on July 12, 2018. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Mac was a good boy, and a good cop, his human partner said.

The MTA Police K9 officer, whose journey from a playful pup to a fierce protector of Long Island commuters was chronicled in a 2018 Newsday story and documentary, died on Jan. 30 from lymphoma, his family said.

Mac, you were my best friend, my first partner, my protector, my eyes, my ears.

MTA Police Sgt. Alison Gentile

The beloved German shepherd, who was named after his partner's childhood neighbor, the late NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, was 7.

“Mac, you were my best friend, my first partner, my protector, my eyes, my ears,” MTA Police Sgt. Alison Gentile wrote in an Instagram post announcing Mac's passing. “I'll miss you forever and always.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials did not respond to requests for comment and would not make Gentile available for an interview.

Mac was 18 months old when he was paired with Gentile — then MTA Police Officer Alison Schmitt — in 2017, months after the death of McDonald, who spent the second half of his life paralyzed after being shot while on duty. In a tribute to her role model, Gentile asked the McDonald family, who she knew from growing up in Malverne, if they would pick a moniker for her new partner. They chose “Mac,” McDonald’s nickname.

Steven McDonald with his wife, Patti Ann, and 2-year-old son, Conor, in...

Steven McDonald with his wife, Patti Ann, and 2-year-old son, Conor, in their Malverne home on June 1, 1989; Mac, part of the MTA canine unit, with awards from the USPCA National Detector Trails. Credit: Newsday / J. Michael Dombroski; Alison Gentile

“We got to know Mac, and we know Alison and her family, so it was a great honor for me, my mom, and the rest of our family,” said NYPD Lt. Connor McDonald, Steven’s son, who “kept tabs” on the dog through social media over the years. “I know that Alison and Mac were great partners that did a lot of great work for the MTA system.”

Newsday journalists followed Mac for months as he trained to become among the team of canine officers responsible for patrolling the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s two commuter railroads, the LIRR and Metro-North. Cameras caught the enthusiastic dog as he practiced — and had an accident — on an empty train, sheepishly hesitated before stepping onto a Penn Station escalator for the first time, and when he earned the badge he wore on his collar at a graduation ceremony at Grand Central Terminal.

Alison Gentile, a police officer with the MTA canine unit,...

Alison Gentile, a police officer with the MTA canine unit, poses with her dog, MAC, at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on July 12, 2018. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Addressing her fellow officers — both human and canine — at the event, Gentile explained the tradition of naming police dogs after fallen heroes. “We do this to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifices,” she said. “Because they, like these dogs, represent the best of who we are.”

A documentary about Mac, "Police Dog: Training Your Best Friend," became Newsday’s most-watched YouTube video, with more than 1.7 million views.

Over his three years on the job, Mac helped clear thousands of unattended packages, vehicles and buildings — along the way becoming nationally certified in both detection and patrol, according to Gentile.

The job took Mac to the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Open, national detector dog competitions, Girl Scout demonstrations, and dozens of LIRR stations. Mac shared his adventures — and photos of him posing with Jimmy Fallon and Paul McCartney — on his Instagram account, which has more than 14,000 followers.

Alison Gentile, a police officer with the MTA canine unit...

Alison Gentile, a police officer with the MTA canine unit and her dog, Mac, head for a call to fellow officers at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on July 12, 2018. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Upon Gentile’s promotion to sergeant in 2021, Mac retired early, and transitioned to life as a full-time pet, playing in the backyard of his family's Holtsville home with big brother Bud — the retired partner of Gentile’s husband, MTA Police Sgt. Anthony Gentile, and the couple's two children. Bud died in August 2022.

In the last post on the k9_mac Instagram account — featuring a photo of the dog sitting beneath an American flag at Penn Station with his huge ears at attention — Gentile bid her partner and best friend farewell. “Our good boy,” she wrote, punctuated with a blue heart emoji. “Rest easy Mac.”

MTA Police Officer Alison Gentile and MTA Police Sgt. Anthony...

MTA Police Officer Alison Gentile and MTA Police Sgt. Anthony Gentile, with their dogs, Bud, left, and Mac at home in Holtsville. Credit: Johnny Milano

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