Police dog Cleo earns much-needed retirement, relaxing with now-former handler

It’s not uncommon, but it is certainly an impressive time for a dog to hold a position, especially in the case of the now-retired police dog Cleo.

After being certified at about a year old, Cleo has had an illustrious career in Winona County.

Winona County MP and MP Adam Carlson reflected on some of her many accomplishments and laughed happily as he looked back over the past nine years.

“She’s a good little dog,” Carlson said before delving into her story.

One particular incident that Carlson noticed was the sheriff’s office helping another agency in freezing temperatures. It was only three miles to arrest the suspect, Carlson said, but Cleo endured anything.

Another incident that Carlson noticed was when Cleo hid about 90 grams of methamphetamine under the hood of a vehicle, along with a large sum of money.

Then there was another time when Cleo helped the police find a young girl who was missing in a meadow near Wilson Township.

“She tracked her down and found her,” said Carlson, “and we were able to take her back to her parents.”

Sometimes, Carlson admitted, there were times when Cleo didn’t have to do anything other than just be present when an incident occurred.

“People just came out and gave up,” he said. “I would say some of these are the greatest (accomplishments) out there.”

Cleo also has a positive presence outside of police work.

“We always love showing our demonstrations to the kids in all schools; they love the dog,” said Carlson. “We just eat things like that.”

Given the reputation she has backed up, it may come as no surprise that Cleo has consistently achieved high rankings in her annual certifications.

In early 2020, Carlson and Cleo won top honors in drug detection when they competed in the US Police Canine Association in Fargo, North Dakota, after defeating 38 other teams.

Just months earlier, in November 2019, as part of a team that included officers from the Houston, Austin and Douglas counties, Carlson and Cleo took first place in the Canine Association’s National Patrol Dog Certification team competition, beating 90 other dog teams.

But now she no longer has to worry about certifications and proof of her competence. Instead, she can now relax while staying with Carlson.

“Cleo is becoming more of a pet now – she can relax (and) she can sleep more indoors,” said Carlson. “When she was a working dog we tried to keep her in this working dog mode more, but now she can ride around side by side, be in the garden more often and swim in the pool and so on like that.”

In case there are concerns about Cleo’s health given her recent retirement, Carlson announced that she is still very healthy but that he wanted her to have a good retirement after nine years of service.

“They can get injuries much more easily later in life and they won’t recover from them,” said Carlson. “The last thing I wanted was for her to have a life-threatening injury at work when she could have retired.”

Cleo’s successor, Doc, has big footsteps to fill, but Carlson seems convinced of his abilities.

“He’s full of energy and ready to go,” he said. “He’s definitely a fun dog.”

However, this new partnership won’t replace what Cleo did for Winona County.

“She was just a great partner,” said Carlson.

(c) 2021 Winona Daily News, Minn.
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