Sheriff and his devoted K9 partner who passed away just hours apart, rest in peace

K9 police dogs are a crucial component of any police force. They hold a special place in the hearts of their handlers, who see them not just as an animal sidekick but as a true partner in crime fighting.

This was particularly true for an Ohio police officer and his unique K9 partner, whose lives and careers were forever intertwined.

And this week, in a bittersweet conclusion to their story, the two officers passed away within a few hours of one another on the same day.

The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office reported on Wednesday that 67-year-old Sheriff Dan McClelland had passed away. He had worked for the county for 44 years before retiring in 2016.

A few hours later, Midge, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, passed away, seemingly from a broken heart.

Throughout his years on the force, including 13 years as sheriff, Sheriff McClelland was regarded as a “pillar” of his community.

He received the Emerald Leader Award from Geauga County in 2014, and according to his resume, he has cleared out a significant burglary ring and saved the life of another deputy by disarming an armed suspect.

Regarding his career, McClelland said, “It’s always been about family and bringing people together.” 

Despite having an impressive résumé, he spent most of his career taking care of his famous partner Midge.

Midge set the Guinness World Record for the smallest police dog in 2006 at 11 inches tall and 23 inches long. Midge, despite being small, was an expert K9 drug sniffer.

Her human partner was overshadowed by Midge’s newfound fame, but McClelland was content to let his favourite dog take the lead.

“He used to joke that people would see him in a parade in a car and would say, ‘Hey, there’s Midge and whatshisname,’” Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, McClelland’s successor, told the AP News. “I think she was more popular than him.”

At the end of 2016, they both retired, putting an end to two incredibly successful careers and a cherished partnership.

“He spent 44 years protecting people in this county and, quite frankly, he loved his job, every minute of it,” Hildenbrand said of McClelland. “I thought he’d never retire.”