Nico, a Czech German Shepherd who was part of the Johns Creek Police Department’s first K-9 Unit a decade ago, died in his sleep on the evening of Oct. 28, the department announced on Monday.

He was 12, according to Officer George Hodge, who was Nico’s partner on the force before adopting him.

Nico, who served on the force from April 2009 until retiring in June 2017, began working with the B Squad Watch before moving to the John Creek Police Department’s Traffic Unit in 2016.

“When not working, K-9 Nico was a member of the family and had his own space in my home. He was a great protector of the home, and my two sons, who often enjoyed playing with him,” Hodge wrote on the Johns Creek Police Department’s Facebook page that announced Nico’s passing. “ K-9 Nico had a great disposition, he was highly social and enjoyed human interaction, which made performing demos with him, especially at schools, very easy, and he made lots of children happy during his years of service,”

Nico, who the department praised for his high drive, love for work and superior tracking skills, became a key contributor in the war on drugs. He was responsible for multiple arrests, including numerous narcotics and cash seizures. He also successfully tracked missing persons, who were either abducted or had become lost.

Nico, who has lived with Hodge since his retirement, made a name for himself in the field during his career by sniffing out 140 pounds of marijuana in a car during a traffic stop, finding $300,000 in U.S. currency that was used in illegal activities and locating a missing Alzheimer’s patient.

“[Retirement] was not an easy transition for Nico, especially when a new dog was thrown into the mix, as Nico never lost his drive or want to go to work with me every day,” Hodge wrote. “Sadly, Nico’s health began to deteriorate in retirement, some of which was attributed to the physical toll his working years had on his body.

In his latter days, K-9 Nico had arthritic hips and joints which severely hampered his mobility, and he was also diagnosed with kidney failure. Sadly the kidney failure progressed and caused additional issues, which led to K-9 Nico passing away peacefully in his sleep.”

Nico’s first apprehension came on a deployment for the Alpharetta Police Department, where he successfully tracked and located a felony shoplifting suspect who had assaulted a store employee before fleeing on foot into a wooden area.

“He was the best first K-9 partner I ever could’ve asked for and he will be greatly missed,” Hodge wrote in a statement. “People were often surprised to see the loveable K-9 flip that switch and go into patrol mode when on command, he was just an awesome dog/partner.”