Nottinghamshire Police pay tribute to sniffer dog Mij, who helped take drugs and guns off the streets and served at the 2012 London Olympics
A popular sniffer dog who became the scourge of drug dealers and violent criminals across Nottinghamshire has died.
Mij, and English springer spaniel, joined Nottinghamshire Police as a puppy and served for more than nine years with the force.
In that time he sniffed out many thousands of pounds’ worth of drugs, took guns and ammunition of the streets, and even helped to police the 2012 London Olympics.
After enjoying a happy retirement with new owners, Mij died on Tuesday at the age of 17½.
His former handler, retired Pc Stu Hazard, said: “Like a lot of spaniels Mij was absolutely crazy. He really wasn’t the most obedient dog at all — but he was absolutely stunning at what he was trained to do, which was to sniff out drugs, cash, firearms and ammunition.
“Over the years we spent together he sniffed out probably hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs — in cars, in houses and even in dark fields.
"He was that good as a sniffer dog that it was pretty much impossible to hide anything from him.
“People would try to hide drugs in all sorts of places — in car door panels, inside gearstick housing, in plug sockets and under floorboards — but Mij would find them every single time.
“I remember one search we did at a garage where somebody had tried to hide a bag of drugs in a big tub of coffee. They clearly assumed the smell of the coffee would mask the smell of the drugs, but the thing with police dogs is they are trained only to sniff out a limited number of scents and they really aren’t interest in anything else.
"They also do it all for a tennis ball.
“Another time I remember we chased a lad in Southwell on suspicion of drugs offences. When we caught up with him he had nothing on him, but we were pretty sure he’d thrown something on the ground nearby.
"However it was pitch black and we had absolutely no hope of finding it ourselves. Mij sniffed out a bag of drugs almost as soon as he was let off the lead.
“I would really go so far as to say that if there was anything at all for Mij to find he would find it.”
Mij’s exploits — and his loving bond with Pc Hazard — were featured in several television documentaries – at least one of which must have been seen by an unlucky Nottingham drug dealer.
Pc Hazard explained: “This car had been pulled over in Wollaton Street, Nottingham, and the officers were holding four lads inside as me and Mij arrived at the scene. I remember the driver looking at as both, shaking his head and saying that he’d seen us on TV.
“He knew instantly he was in trouble so when I asked him if he had any drugs in the car he just came straight out with it and showed us a bag cocaine hidden in the footwell.
"He knew he had nowhere to go and just came out with it. I remember thinking that was a real compliment for Mij.”
The dog’s reputation, however, was well earned.
Other significant finds over the years included a gun used in an armed robbery that had been buried in a garden, and two live rounds of ammunition found under a paving slab and a wheelie bin.
His career, however, wasn’t entirely without risk and his work could occasionally throw up some unexpected challenges, including from a giant snake.
Pc Hazard said: “We were searching this lad’s house and I had just asked him all the usual questions we’d ask, including whether he had any other pets in the house. He said no so I let Mij off the lead and into the living room.
“At that point he stopped and went down on his front paws as if he was meeting another dog to play. I was still wondering what he was up to when I saw a 6ft python come slithering towards us. I was terrified and got us out of there as quickly as a I could.
“When I asked the guy why he hadn’t mentioned the snake he said he had forgotten to mention it — although I really have no idea how you forget the fact you have a 6ft snake in your house. I know I won’t forget it and I am pretty sure Mij didn’t either!”
For many years of this service Mij worked alongside Pc Hazard’s former general purpose police dog, Razor, who passed way earlier in the year.
Pc Hazard said: “I used to see Mij regularly right up to the end his life.
"He really was a special dog and I was very sad to hear of his death. But I also felt a huge amount of pride at things we had done together.”