K9 police dogs are an essential part of any police force. They are especially important to their police handlers, who see them as more than just an animal sidekick, but as a true partner on the job.
That was especially true for one Ohio cop and his one-of-a-kind K9 partner, whose lives and careers were inextricably linked, according to en.newsner.
And, in a sad but sweet ending to their story, the two officers died on the same day, just hours apart, this week.
Sheriff Dan McClelland, who served the county for 44 years before retiring in 2016, died on Wednesday at the age of 67, according to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.
And his former companion, Midge, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, died just hours later, as if of a broken heart.
During his decades on the force, including 13 years as sheriff, Sheriff McClelland was regarded as a “pillar” of his community.
He received Geauga County’s Emerald Leader Award in 2014, and his resume includes career highlights such as breaking up a major burglary ring and saving another deputy’s life by disarming an armed suspect.
“My career has always been about family and bringing people together,” McClelland said of his work.
But, as impressive as his resume was, he spent much of his career taking care of his celebrity partner Midge.
Midge set the Guinness World Record for the smallest police dog in 2006, standing 11 inches tall and 23 inches long. Midge, despite her diminutive stature, was a skilled drug-sniffing K9.
Midge’s new celebrity overshadowed her human partner, but McClelland was content to let his favorite dog take center stage.
“He used to joke that people would see him in a parade in a car and say, ‘Hey, there’s Midge and whatshisname,'” McClelland’s successor, Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, told the Associated Press. “She was probably more popular than him.”
They both retired at the end of 2016, capping off two illustrious careers and a beloved partnership.
“He spent 44 years protecting people in this county, and to be honest, he loved every minute of it,” Hildenbrand said of McClelland. “I never thought he’d retire.”
According to the Associated Press, Sheriff McClelland and Midge will be buried together.
It demonstrates the genuine affection shared by a police officer and his K9 partner. Please share this lovely story.