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story.lead_photo.caption K9 Officer Mizzou sits beside Sheriff Tony Wheatley Nov. 21 at the retired teacher's meeting, where Wheatley explained how K9 officers are trained and gave a history of Mizzou's life. Mizzou even demonstrated her narcotic identifying skills for the retired teachers. Photo by Liz Morales / California Democrat.

The Moniteau County Retired Educators had a special Hungarian guest during their Nov. 20 meeting.

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley brought in K9 Officer Mizzou, the Hungarian-born mala-herd European police breed, who is a cross between a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd, to visit with the retired educators.

Wheatley explained to the educators what Mizzou does to keep Moniteau County safe and a little about her training.

"She is certified in tracking and narcotics," Wheatley said. "She can pick up five different types of narcotics, which are methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy."

Before the meeting began, Wheatley hid a pseudo-narcotic somewhere in the Friendship Hall of the United Church of Christ, where the meeting took place. Once Mizzou joined the meeting, she found the location in less than one minute, alerting Wheatley of her find.

Wheatley, who is Mizzou's primary handler, said Mizzou's fellow K9 officer, Apollo, was off duty for the evening.

When it comes to the ability to identify different types of drugs, Wheatley said it's all about a natural detection in which all dogs are equipped.

"It's all about odor," Wheatley said. "And to dogs, it's all a game to them. I like to think of it as smelling chocolate chip cookies. Dogs can smell every ingredient in that cookie, and can differentiate between those ingredients."

Wheatley also said that while Mizzou is trained to track criminals through woods and other types of terrain, there is a common misconception about tracking through water.

"People always say that dogs can't track through water, and that's not true," Wheatley said. "Dogs can track you through still water, but not moving water."

"The way they track human is through skin cells, mostly. When our skin cells shed, they are lighter than water. So when someone moves through water, their cells shed on the top of the water, as long as it's still. But moving water can wash those cells away."

Mizzou lives with Wheatley when she isn't working and will continue to do so once she retires from the force.

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