SALISBURY -- Smoke, a 7-year-old black Labrador, retired from the department's drug interdiction team after five years of service.
Thursday was a play day for Smoke. He was paying a visit to his former colleagues at the Salisbury Police Department, where he was valued as one of the most powerful tools in law enforcement.
"For a drug dealer that's their worst nightmare," said Sgt. Mark Hunter, Smoke’s former handler. "It was an experience," he said.
Smoke's biggest bust with police didn't just take a large sum of narcotics off the streets, but stolen guns and more than $20,000 in cash.
He's had countless other successes with the state highway patrol, State Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Though his last search was almost two years ago, his ability to sniff out illegal substances hasn't waned.
And Hunter said that he can't be replaced.
"I don't think so. I'm just going to be honest with you, I would be fooling myself if I said I could even train another dog like this," said Hunter.
Smoke was taken off duty in December 2010 when he began having seizures. Last week, Hunter was granted custody of Smoke, officially making him a member of the family.
"He loves it, right now my grand-kids lay up and go to sleep on him," said Hunter.
"It's good to see him come out and play," said Officer Christopher Schenk. Schenk worked with smoke the year leading up to his retirement.
"It was hard to see him have to retire because he was a fixture," he said.
Smoke won't be a stranger at the police department, but now it's no work and all play. Smoke resides with sergeant Hunter and his family in Salisbury.