Wyoming Highway Patrol K-9 Lou had a nose for narcotics, cash and guns, his handler Trooper Josh Hardee said.
A few years ago, Hardee stopped a couple of young men for speeding on Wyoming Highway 220 west of Casper, he said.
He interviewed the driver and passenger, their stories didn't match, and K-9 Lou alerted to drugs, he said. "I ended up finding ... near a half a pound of methamphetamine that they were transporting to Casper."
During their six-year partnership, K-9 Lou and Hardee engaged in more than 400 deployments and interdicted 25 pounds of marijuana, 75 grams of cocaine, 318 grams of methamphetamine, 350 grams of illegal pills, four illegal guns and more than $433,000 in cash seized.
But on Monday, the black Labrador retriever officially retired after hip and joint problems became too much for the job.
Reminiscing on their professional lives together, Hardee said the two were paired through the Federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program and stationed in Casper.
K-9 dogs are not the kinds of partners you pick up on the way to work.
They live with their handlers and their families, Hardee said. "He was a match and a fit with me and my personality, which was important."
The handlers themselves undergo extensive, specialized training, too, he said. "I spent at least the first two or three weeks training with him every day, until he became certified through the ... CNCA, the California Narcotic Canine Association."
After that, the two trained 16 hours a month together, Hardee said.
K-9 Lou's specialty was narcotics, specifically marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. But sometimes he would sniff out other contraband as well, he said.
The black Lab often was used by other agencies in Casper, Natrona and Converse counties, and for statewide operations, too.
Besides getting bad guys, K-9 Lou would be deployed to schools where he let the kids pet him, make them laugh and lick their faces.
Now a new life begins with Hardee and his family in Cheyenne.
"I will adopt Lou from the state, and from now on he will spend the rest of his time with me," Hardee said. "He's already starting to settle into his new routine, and believes he needs to counter-surf and be up on beds and couches and stuff like that."