Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Lengthy Battle with Cancer, Retired Sheriff Dies Just Hours Before Beloved K9 Partner


Last week, Geauga County in Ohio lost two important members of their community: former Sheriff Dan McClelland and his tiny K9 partner Midge.

Born July 2, 1953, McClelland was a native of Geauga County, and after graduating from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he spent 44 years serving the county he grew up in, 13 of them as sheriff.

Starting out as a road deputy and moving his way up to sheriff, McClelland was a staple in his community, and for part of that time, his dog Midge was, too.

“Tired of seeing big dogs tear up car interiors, Dan took his own little dog, Midge, and trained her to be the world’s smallest drug dog,” his obituary states. “After appearances on Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, the Today Show and others, Midge’s popularity soared around the country and the world.”

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The pint-sized pup, a Chihuahua and rat terrier mix, became the world’s smallest police dog as recognized by Guinness World Records in 2006.

On Jan. 1, 2017, the pair retired, and for the past year, McClelland battled brain cancer.

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform the residents of Geauga County that Retired Sheriff Dan McClelland has passed way,” the Geauga County Sheriff Facebook page shared Wednesday. “Sheriff McClelland served the residents of Geauga County for 44 years with the last 13 years proudly serving as your Sheriff.

“Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

McClelland is remembered as a friendly sheriff who respected people and loved his family (and ice cream). A tradition he had of getting ice cream with his grandkids will be celebrated with an ice cream truck at his memorial, and he and Midge will be buried together.

“Whether you knew him personally, professionally, through his work with Rotary or other community organizations, had him greet you at the Fair or heard him speak after a parade, you knew this was a good man,” his obituary continued.

“Dan always maintained his sense of humor and compassion. He treated everyone he encountered with respect, even once helping a criminal he was arresting put groceries away before taking him off to jail. He was a calming presence and charismatic leader.”

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“Dan believed that you could never have too much ice cream, often taking his grandkids out for a cone twice in the same day. The King Kone ice cream truck will be at Burr’s scooping up ice cream in his honor during Monday’s visitation.”

Midge died just hours after McClelland on Wednesday. She was 16, and though she was tiny, she had a big heart — those close to McClelland say she passed because hers broke.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of former Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland and his drug-sniffing partner Midge, a chihuahua-rat terrier mix,’ Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine posted on Facebook.

“In 2006, Midge was certified by Guinness World Records as the smallest police dog in the world. As Attorney General I got to work with Sheriff McClelland — and Midge was always nearby. They will both be missed.”

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