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MailTribune.com
  • 'It's time for Tiko to relax'

    Medford police dog settles into well-earned retirement
  • In more than seven years with the Medford police force, Tiko chased down suspected robbers, sniffed through grass for a missing finger, dog-paddled in the swift Rogue River to help catch a fleeing suspect and wrangled with a wanted man who tried to poke out his eye.
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    • Tiko served the Medford Police Department from ...
      Deployments: 1,548.
      • Captures: 215.
      • Bites: 40.
      • Evidence located: 95.
      • Agency assists: 193.
      • Off-duty calls: 143.
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      Tiko served the Medford Police Department from March 1, 2001, to Nov. 1, 2008.
      Deployments: 1,548.

      • Captures: 215.
      • Bites: 40.
      • Evidence located: 95.
      • Agency assists: 193.
      • Off-duty calls: 143.
  • In more than seven years with the Medford police force, Tiko chased down suspected robbers, sniffed through grass for a missing finger, dog-paddled in the swift Rogue River to help catch a fleeing suspect and wrangled with a wanted man who tried to poke out his eye.
    In return, the German shepherd who served for the last time Saturday as a Medford police patrol dog received praise and sometimes a cheeseburger.
    A case of spinal arthritis and general old age have forced 10-year-old Tiko into retirement, said his handler, Medford police Officer D.J. Graham.
    "He's too old," said Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George. "He has some nagging injuries. The vet has said it's time.
    "It's time for Tiko to relax and enjoy retirement."
    In one of his most glorious moments on the force, Tiko plunged into the Rogue River in summer 2001 to help apprehend a wanted man from California who was accused of stealing vehicles and shooting at California Highway Patrol officers, Graham said.
    The suspect jumped into the river to escape police, and Tiko followed him.
    "He ended up swimming around the suspect for 10 minutes while California Highway Patrol dropped officers from helicopters to pick up the suspect," Graham recounted.
    Tiko later won a Class A Merit Award for his bravery from the city of Medford, Graham said.
    Last year, a suspect hiding in a crawl space in Central Point attacked Tiko when the dog entered the space to try to drive the man out. The suspect tried to throttle Tiko and to stick his thumb into Tiko's eye. Tiko bit the suspect's arm, sending the man to the hospital. Tiko sustained a minor cut on the side of his eye, which didn't keep him from returning to work.
    In April, Tiko helped search for a severed thumb in the grass near Target at Crater Lake Highway. A man lost the thumb when another man bit it off during a late-night brawl.
    As late as July, Tiko helped nab a suspect who fled on foot after allegedly robbing a Dutch Brothers coffee stand on South Pacific Highway.
    "There is a lot of running and jumping involved in the work," George said. "The dogs need to have good hearing and eyesight. With all of those things, we don't want to do damage by pushing him further."
    Tiko has lived with Graham since Tiko came to Medford from the Czech Republic at the age of 13 months. He was one of five police dogs on the Medford force.
    Tiko plays with Graham's two sons and curls up in the laundry room to sleep at night. His longtime rival is the neighbor's cat, who enjoys tantalizing him from a rooftop perch overlooking Tiko's kennel.
    Despite all the terror Tiko has inspired in fleeing suspects, he is hungry mostly for affection, Graham said.
    "He loves to be petted and touched," Graham said. "He just wants to spend time with people."
    Graham in the next month will be assigned a new patrol dog who will fill Tiko's position. Because Graham doesn't have room for both dogs, another officer and dog trainer, Reimer Wulff, will adopt Tiko.
    "I have mixed feelings," Graham said. "I'm excited to get the new dog. At the same time, I'm sad to see Tiko go.
    "He has always worked hard for us. He's done everything I've asked him to do."
    After Tiko's last shift Saturday, some police officers and their spouses sent him off with a retirement party. One of the wives served Tiko a feast of biscuits and gravy, bacon, ham and sausage.
    "He had never been exposed to anything like that before," Graham said. "He loved it."
    Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.
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