Lobos, a Belgian Malinois whose nose has led to the seizure of millions of dollars' worth of illegal drugs in Fayette County, is hanging up his leash and turning in his sheriff's deputy badge after eight years -- or 56 dog years.
The Austin American-Statesman reports Lobos was only one-half of the Fayette County sheriff's K-9 and drug interdiction unit. The other half, Sgt. Randy Thumann, is continuing his work with a new dog, 16-month-old Kolt.
"It's hard to replace him as a partner," Thumann said of Lobos. "But it's what you put into it that you get out of it. I'm confident the next dog will be just as good, if not better, because I've learned a lot from Lobos to help me as a handler."
The latest news from around North Texas.
Since pairing up in 2011, Thumann and Lobos regularly made seizures of narcotics and cash along Interstate 10, one of the eight largest drug trafficking corridors in the nation, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
In 2018 alone, Lobos uncovered over 33 kilos of meth, 16 kilos of cocaine and 290 pounds of marijuana in vehicles after Thumann pulled over the drivers.
Over the years, Lobos has sniffed out contraband in some unusual places. He once found methamphetamine worth nearly $6 million stowed in the gas tank of a semi, liquid meth worth $8 million hidden in the rear air conditioning box of a Ford Expedition and 13 kilos of cocaine in a diaper bag.
In 2016, the sheriff's office said Lobos and Thumann even helped uncover a human trafficking operation.
Thumann had approached a car at a rest area off I-10 to make a traffic stop, but when he began questioning the driver's five passengers -- three women, a boy and a girl -- the driver ran off. Lobos helped Thumann chase down the driver, who authorities said was paid $4,500 to bring them across the border illegally and take them to Houston. Immigration officials later released the women and children to family members from Texas.
Lobos lived with Thumann while they worked together, but the 9-year-old will spend his retirement on a ranch with a close relative of Thumann's. Kolt lives with Thumann.
"He's still in the family, so I still see him all the time," Thumann said of Lobos. "He's basically a pet now -- he'll get to live an everyday dog life now."
After working for years with the same police dog, Thumann said he's still adjusting to working with a younger dog. Kolt may be well-trained, but he's only 16 months old.
"It's a change of pace for sure," Thumann said. "It can be frustrating, but it's a lot of fun at the same time. It's like having another kid."
Kolt might have a big dog collar to fill, but he's already making big drug busts of his own. Earlier this month, he uncovered 15 kilos of cocaine from a Ford F-150 after Thumann stopped the vehicles on I-10. The next day, Thumann and Kolt netted 6.5 kilos of meth and about $687,000 in cash tied to money laundering in two separate cases, the sheriff's office said.
"There's nothing like seeing a dog do what you trained it to do," Thumann said. "And there's nothing like knowing that you couldn't have caught the bad guy if it hadn't been for your dog."