Illness takes retired Carson K9 drug officer |

Illness takes retired Carson K9 drug officer

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Photo provided to th e Appeal Tahoe, Carson City's drug-sniffing Labrador retriever, was euthanized on Dec. 30 after suffering six weeks of illness and a seizure.

With an unknown disease wreaking havoc on the Labrador’s body, Carson City Detective Brian Humphrey did for his K9 sidekick the only thing he could. He agreed to let him go.

Tahoe, Carson City’s most recognized drug dog, was euthanized Dec. 30 after nearly six weeks of illness that left him paralyzed on his right side and, in the end, suffering from a grand mal seizure that lasted for more than an hour.

For eight years, Tahoe sniffed out drugs in Carson City, beginning when he was just a pup in 1995.

When his first handler took a job with a law enforcement agency in Washington, Humphrey was assigned to Tahoe.

Over the next four years, the two patrolled the streets together five days a week. At shifts’ end, Tahoe went home with Humphrey.

When they weren’t working drug enforcement, the duo hit the talk circuit. Humphrey would give speeches to schoolkids about law enforcement and drug resistance, and Tahoe would draw the crowds.

“People knew Tahoe by his name and would not know my name,” he said. “Everybody loved him. To this day I have kids, who are now young adults, come up to me and ask about Tahoe. I was just the guy with him.”

After giving all he had to the department, Tahoe retired in 2003 in a ceremony fit for a king. Humphrey was presented a plaque to which Tahoe’s badge was affixed.

“Then he officially became mine and not the city’s anymore.”

At first, the almost-white yellow Lab would look longingly at Humphrey when he left for work. Eventually, Tahoe got used to staying home.

“He just needed to have time to relax as just a dog,” Humphrey said.

Then in mid-November, Humphrey noticed Tahoe couldn’t jump up on the bed anymore. And he was having trouble with his back legs and sleeping all day.

“Then every few days, some big change would happen,” Humphrey said.

The vet couldn’t pinpoint the problem. It was likely a tumor on his brain that was causing all the trouble, Humphrey was told. If he wanted a better diagnosis, he’d have to go to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“We were considering it, but everything started happening so fast. He was deteriorating so fast.”

On Dec. 29, Humphrey was awakened by Tahoe suffering a seizure. He rushed the pup to the doctor, and for the next hour, as one seizure would end, another would come on. There was nothing that could be done to stop them.

“He had led a good life,” Humphrey said. “It was time to let him go.”

There are a lot of jobs within the Carson City Sheriff’s Department that Brian Humphrey has done. He started in dispatch, moved into patrol, and is now a detective. But he’ll tell you in a minute what the best one was.

“Out of all the assignments at the Sheriff’s Office, Tahoe was my favorite,” he said. “He was more than just a dog, he was my partner for four years. I spent more time with him in that four years than I did with my wife. He was more than just a dog. He was my buddy.”

n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.