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Police dog Miko was one gold medal pooch

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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By all measures, retired police dog Miko was one special canine. Tough but not vicious with bad guys, gentle around good guys and a three-time California Police Olympics champion, the 14-year-old German Shepherd died Monday after battling cancer. Miko served as an Auburn Police canine with Officer Stan Hamelin from 1998 to 2005. The police dog retired from active duty to become a family pet for the last six years of his life. Hamelin recalled Thursday that Miko touched the lives of many people – from his fellow officers to onlookers watching with amazement at his dog’s skill in obedience and protection events to crime suspects, who respected the canine’s ability to catch them but then not viciously attack them. “There wasn’t a demonstration we didn’t do where someone wasn’t pinching his ears or pulling his tail and he would still love being around people,” Hamelin said Thursday. From 2001 to 2003, Miko was a California Police Olympics champion in competition that involved dogs and officers from around the state. The event has since expanded and is now called the Western States Police and Fire Games. Events revolve around obedience, agility, search and protection skills. On the job, Miko was a trusted partner, chasing and searching for suspects. A canine member of the SWAT team, the dog was involved in many arrests and apprehensions, Hamelin said. “Even the bad guys told me he was well-trained,” Hamelin said. “He led me to a few that never in my wildest dreams I thought I would find.” Off duty, Miko loved to travel with Hamelin. The officer said that he plans to take some of Miko’s ashes to some of their favorite vacation spots. Hamelin said he’d also hope that as leading endurance athletes and other Auburn residents are considered for enshrinement on Downtown walkways, Miko some day gets consideration for his Olympic feats. “If you look at us as a NASCAR team, he was a souped-up car and I was just the driver,” Hamelin said. “There are not too many dogs who are that well-rounded.” – Gus Thomson