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Sheriff's office German shepherd dies of cancer
Olaf, a Hall County Sheriff’s Office bomb-sniffing dog, died Tuesday of cancer. Rusty Blalock was his handler.

A sheriff’s office German shepherd, Olaf, died Tuesday of cancer, Hall County officials said.

His handler, Deputy Rusty Blalock, said Olaf was a "truly gentle giant."

"He really enjoyed his job and being here, and working. Every day he was waiting on me to put him in the truck to come to work," Blalock said.

After retiring from active duty in 2010, rehabilitation allowed Olaf to return to his drug-sniffing position in the Hall County Courthouse.

Blalock said Olaf was treated by Dr. Marie Lance, a veterinarian at Lance Animal Hospital in Gainesville.

"We were able to get him chiropractic treatments and laser treatments for his back, and they were able to continue his work career. He was still actively working under their care up and doing fine until he had this issue with cancer," Blalock said.

He said that Olaf’s time in law enforcement yielded big numbers.

"We had done over 830 safety checks of the courthouse here, and over 25 bomb threat responses," he said. "We checked suspicious vehicles. We’ve been everywhere from Lake Lanier Islands to Habersham Medical Center, anywhere like that they needed us to go."

Blalock will be getting a new canine partner soon, he said.

"We had been fortunate enough in November to get a retired Marine Corps dog. Her name is Star, and she’s a female black Lab," he said.

Olaf was born in Holland and eventually acquired by the sheriff’s office from a Texas company that trains police dogs.

He kept some of those Dutch origins: Olaf could follow commands in Dutch and English, Blalock said.

There will be a service for Olaf, Blalock said, although a time or day hasn’t been set yet.

Olaf lived in Blalock’s home, where his children got to enjoy him as well.

"In addition to being a bomb dog, he was also a member of the family," Blalock said.

Although Olaf was a trained police dog, he had some familiar qualities.

"His favorite thing to do would probably be to eat," Blalock said.