Officer Rob Havice with his partner, Robb, who is retiring from the Medford Police Department after 10 years on duty. Submitted Photo - Submitte Photo

Hanging up his leash

Robb, an 11-year-old English springer spaniel, has come a long way — from London, England, to the mean streets of Medford.

Over his nine-year career with the Medford Police Department, Robb has nosed his way through filthy drug houses on South Columbus Avenue and cars fitted with hidden compartments where dealers stash large bundles of cocaine and heroin.

But the ride has come to an end. Robb officially has retired from the department, a bittersweet reality with which his partner, Officer Rob Havice, is coming to terms.

"In a way, I'm glad he gets to go be a normal dog for the rest of his life," Havice said. "But I am going to miss coming to work with him every day."

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George also is sad to see Robb go, but noted the canine went out with a bang.

"On his last day on the job, he scored one of our largest cocaine busts in quite a while," George said.

Havice and Robb were called to Interstate 5 to search a Cadillac that had been pulled over. During the search, Robb "alerted" on a hidden compartment hiding 7 kilos — or approximately 15.4 pounds — of cocaine wrapped in duct tape.

The search capped Robb's impressive career totals. Over the past nine years, Robb has rooted out 122 pounds of methamphetamine, 742 pounds of marijuana, 67 pounds of cocaine, 12 pounds of heroin, 6,245 tabs of Ecstasy and more than $1.1 million in cash.

Not bad for a dog bred for bird hunting along the English countryside, Havice said.

As is customary for a police dog's last day on the Medford force, Robb was treated to a cheeseburger.

"It's the first bit of human food he's ever had," Havice said. "It's a reward for a good career."

Havice will adopt the dog as a pet. It will be quite a change from the life Robb's grown used to over the years.

"Up until he retired he was treated as a law enforcement tool," Havice said. "He pretty much stayed kenneled until he went to work. He wasn't a pet."

Havice is not sure how Robb will take to civilian life.

"He's always working, even when he's off duty," Havice said. "When he's out of the car, he's sniffing around looking for the drugs he's trained to find."

Havice frees the dog from the back of his patrol SUV at Alba Park and the canine immediately buries his nose in the grass and begins sniffing the area.

"There's times when we will be on a break and he'll find a drug pipe in some bushes behind us," Havice said. "I'm hoping he will relax over time and enjoy his new life."

Havice will receive a new four-legged partner in the near future. The department could have one ordered in the coming months.

"I'm looking forward to a new dog, but it will have some big shoes to fill," Havice said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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