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Police Dog Axle has retired from the force after more than seven years helping keep the people of Derbyshire safe.
Axle is probably best known as the dog stabbed in the line of duty – but that brush with fame was only a very small part of his service.
Arriving in Derbyshire from his native Germany in late 2012, Axle showed early promise according to his handler PC Dean Allen; however it did require a bit of work to breakdown the language barrier.
PC Allen, said: “When Axle came to Derbyshire it was clear he had enormous potential – alongside an equally enormous head!
“The only real stumbling block has was learning a whole series of German commands. But once I got my teeth into the Deutsche dialect it was clear we were going to be an excellent team as well as best mates.”
Licensed in 2013 the pair hit the streets of Derbyshire and quickly began chalking up results.
PC Allen said: “He’s caught countless criminals over the years, including on the run murderer Leon Lockhart in Somercotes, ironically sniffed out by Axle clinging to the ‘axle’ of a motorhome.
“It always surprises me that even with him in full voice, or full scream for those that have heard him, people still make the decision to try and run away. Even on his last set of nights he still had the measure of a couple of fleeing burglars – not bad for an old lad of eight-and-a-half.”
While PD Axle’s main job was tracking down criminals his skills were also put to good use helping out colleagues – although sometimes officers also found out just what those 42 pearly whites can do.
PC Allen said: “Over the years Axle has managed to locate fellow officers’ wedding rings – as well as a set of patrol car keys (avoiding a hefty cake fine for the offending officer!).
“One of our most memorable days out was spent policing the Chesterfield v Mansfield football match. A number of Nottinghamshire Police officers had been sent over the border to help us out, unfortunately it would appear that they weren’t quite as used to dogs policing at the football and a few got pushed, or strayed, into our sterile area.
“I received, on Axle’s behalf, an email from a Nottinghamshire sergeant which went something along the lines of ‘PC Allen, I have examined the area of the bite and I can report there is no puncture wound but light scratches and bruising to my left buttock. I will be taking no further action in the matter’.
“Our reply, which may have required slightly more thought, went: ‘Sergeant, thank you for the update. I have examined PD Axles teeth and can report that there seems to be no sign of injury or infection, I will be taking no further action in the matter’!”
In 2018 Axle hit the headlines after being stabbed several times by another fleeing criminal – requiring life-saving surgery from which he recovered and returned to fulltime duty.
PC Allen said: “Many people will know Axle as ‘the dog who got stabbed’ and that of course is part of his story. But he has been so much more to both me and the force.
“He has been an exceptional member of the team – more than worth his weight in pig’s ears – and I am delighted that he is going off to enjoy a very well deserved retirement.
“He is staying in the police family, however, as his new keeper is a PCSO from Erewash who has provided Axle with a fantastic new kennel and paddock to run around in.
“I wish him a peaceful retirement in his new home and wish his new keepers the best of luck trying to curb his continued enthusiasm.”