Retired Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland, 67, and his furry partner, Midge, 16, were inseparable — up until the moment they passed on.
This past Wednesday, Sheriff McClelland lost his battle to cancer while Midge, just a few hours later, died at home.
McClelland retired at the end of 2016 after 13 years as sheriff in this semi-rural county east of Cleveland. He spent a total of 44 years with the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office and ten years alongside Midge, a drug-sniffing Chihuahua-rat terrier mix certified by Guinness World Records in 2006 as the smallest police dog on the globe.
Best Friends, a Sheriff and His K-9, Pass Away on the Same Day
Both he and Midge — but especially Midge — were known throughout Geauga County. Wherever McClelland went, Midge was not far off.
McClelland’s successor, Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, recalls driving a golf cart with McClelland and Midge in the passenger seat at the Great Geauga County Fair. He said many quickly came to praise Midge.
“He used to joke that people would see him in a parade in a car and would say, ‘Hey, there’s Midge and whatshisname,’” Hildenbrand said. “I think she was more popular than him.”
Retired Lt. John Hiscox put it simply: “It was like bringing Elvis Presley to the midway.”
And despite her small size, Midge was a hard worker. McClelland was the one who decided that the runt of the litter would make for a stand-up, drug-sniffing pup.
Unlike large and more aggressive police dogs, the mild-mannered Midge would search vehicles without tearing up upholstery or leaving muddy footprints. And searching underneath vehicles was never an issue for the diligent dog.
Their partnership led to appearances on daytime television talk shows and mentions in national magazines, including Playboy. She maintained her K-9 certifications until their joint retirement.
Hildenbrand said he was surprised when McClelland decided to retire and went off to travel the country in a recreational vehicle with his wife, Beverly, and, Midge, of course.
“He spent 44 years protecting people in this county and, quite frankly, he loved his job, every minute of it,” Hildenbrand said. “I thought he’d never retire.
Hiscox said McClelland was a good leader.
“He was fair and was not afraid to make a decision,” Hiscox said. “He was always willing to listen, but when he made a decision it was final.”
The family stated that McClelland and Midge will be buried together.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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