After four years of sniffing out drugs for Anaheim Police’s narcotics unit, Popeye, a seven-year-old Labrador from Texas, has passed away from cancer, officials said today.
The dope dog’s four-year career started in October 2009, and he joined the department after several business leaders donated the money. A persistent narcotics investigator pushed to add a full-time dope dog to help the team in its efforts to prevent the use and sale of drugs in Anaheim.
“I never thought I’d keep a dog’s ashes, but Popeye’s ashes are above my fireplace,” said Popeye’s handler. “He used to wander around the office, he was kind of the celebrity of the station.”
Popeye’s police career began gloriously. On his first day, he helped narcotics investigators sniff out 12 kilos of cocaine. His biggest bust: 208 kilogram shipment of cocaine to Canada, which police estimate had a street value of $6 million.
Ken Greenleaf, the canine trainer at APD, believes Labradors are better suited for detecting drugs than other breeds because of an intensified sense of smell. At APD, Popeye was the only lab; the rest are German shepherds.
That’s not what his handler will remember about the difference between the breeds.
He trained Popeye differently. He said the training was more centered on playing games compared to the Shepherds’ regimented training program.
“It was always play-time. He would get so excited when it was time to work because he knew he was gonna get to play,” he said.
When asked what he’ll miss most about Popeye, he struggled to name one thing.
“He was a part of the family,” he said. “My family would fight over who got to dog-sit him when we went out of town. He represented a part of home at the office and the best parts of the office at home. I think I’ll miss our conversations the most, though. I never realized how much I used to talk to him. I’ll definitely miss that.”
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