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Retired Sherriff And His Beloved K-9 Partner Die Just Hours Apart

It's an unfortunate fact of life that so many people in this world aren't really appreciated until they're gone.

That's a common aspect in the life stories of now world famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh but it can be just as true at the local level. Whether it was because someone had an undeserved negative reputation or simply wasn't regarded at all despite doing things worthy of praise, it's not exactly impossible to find situations in our lives that fit the mournful phrase, "We hardly knew ye."

Fortunately, that's not true for everybody and we can sometimes see that pillars of the community and brilliant artists are recognized for the difference they made while they're still alive to enjoy that appreciation.

And that certainly seemed to be the case for one recently departed Ohio sheriff and his faithful K-9 partner.

For 44 years, 67-year-old Dan McClelland worked for the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.

Facebook | Mike DeWine

According to his obituary posted on the Burr Funeral Home's website, 13 of those years were spent serving as the county's sheriff right up until his retirement on January 1, 2017.

He was described as a good-humored and compassionate man who treated people with respect even as he was arresting them. This was shown when he helped one suspect put his groceries away before taking him off to jail.

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And while he was lauded as a calming presence and effective leader in the aftermath of a school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, he was recognized beyond Geauga County for his beloved K-9 partner, Midge.

Facebook | Mike DeWine

According to AP News, Midge was a 16-year-old Chihuahua-rat terrier mix who McClelland trained to be a drug-sniffing dog despite the fact that she was the runt of her littler.

She would spend the last 10 years of McClelland's career by his side.

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In his view, Midge's small size made her an ideal candidate for the job.

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As stated in his obituary, he made the decision to train her after growing frustrated with larger, more aggressive dogs that tore up the interiors of cars during their inspections.

By contrast, AP News reported that Midge didn't tear up any upholstery or leave muddy footprints. On top of that, she had no issue searching underneath vehicles.

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McClelland's choice in partner turned out to be an unprecented decision as Midge received a Guinness World Record for being the smallest police dog on the planet in 2006.

Twitter | @GeaugaSheriff

But while Midge was a worldwide curiosity, she was a celebrity within the community as schoolchildren doted on her during their visits to the Sheriff's Office and people always flocked to the vehicle that McClelland and Midge would ride in at the Great Geauga County Fair.

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

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McClelland and Midge were just as inseperable during his retirement and the dog joined him and his wife Beverly on an RV trip around the country after he left office.

Twitter | @GeaugaSheriff

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

Indeed, it seems they were together right up to the end as both would pass away on April 14. For McClelland, this happened at a hospital following a long battle with cancer, while Midge would pass at home within hours of her partner from unknown causes.

h/t: Burr Service, AP News

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