The strong, handsome German Shepherd’s look of royalty was unmistakable. His bearing and countenance were majestic, whether chasing a bouncing ball or an armed drug dealer. The latter, of course, was where Nilo made his most heroic contributions. Ferocious-sounding bark, flashing eyes, and bared teeth. The only thing missing from the crime-fighting hero was a cape.
Nilo was born on December 15, 2011, in the Netherlands. There, the name shown on his birth certificate was Daffe. In August 2013, the still-maturing “pup” left his birthplace and, as happens with many who make their way to a new land and an equally new culture, the name Daffe was left behind and replaced with Nilo.
Nilo was not an ordinary dog, and neither was he destined for an ordinary life. Instead, the gorgeous dog became the first member of the Denton County Sheriff’s Office’s new K-9 program. Very soon after joining the agency, Nilo and his handler headed to Louisiana for an intense program of serious training.
In March 2014, Nilo jumped into his first patrol car, his tongue lolling from the side of his mouth as he hit the sidewalk in full-alert work mode. Nilo continued working with his original handler until 2017 when he hooked up with Deputy Corey Halfmann.
“He spent his entire career working Criminal Interdiction,” Halfmann explained. “Hunting illegal contraband smugglers was a passion for both of us. He was either responsible for, or assisted in, seizing thousands of pounds of narcotics and millions in assets confiscated from narcotics smugglers, drug dealers, and other criminals.”
A single seizure, taking place at a traffic stop, netted 445 pounds of dope for Nilo. It was the perfect stuff for a James Bond super thriller.
Nilo developed a proud lift in his step, a confident canine swagger. And why not? He was known throughout the North Texas K-9 world as one of the best narcotic sniffing K-9s around. His reputation in criminal interdiction affairs was so impeccable and filled with so many superlatives that state and federal agencies across North Texas called for his assistance.
Deputy Halfmann was impressed daily with the dog’s talents.
“He would stand up and become fully alert at every traffic stop I made. He watched my every move from the vehicle through the front kennel door. Just the sound of his huge, ferocious bark was enough to deter even the most aggressive behavior from a person I might be dealing with. But he was also one of the kindest and most gentle K-9s around. He was extremely sociable, and he loved kids. He knew exactly how to go up to them and push all of his weight into them. That gave them no choice but to wrap their arms around him and love on him. He loved doing it.”
Deputy Halfmann added, “I’ve never known anyone who loved going to work as much as Nilo! I would go outside first and start my unit. Immediately after, I’d hear Nilo start yelping! He was totally excited and ready to work. He’d fly out of the house, race to the unit, and sit there, waiting for me to open the door. Work was truly his life.”
Clearly, Nilo and Halfmann shared a beautiful bond.
The beautiful, thick-coated German Shepherd with the look deep-into-your-soul eyes had his “end of watch” on December 14, 2020, due to a terminal illness. It was one day shy of his birthday. He spent it with Halfmann and his family, eating cake and other treats. He died peacefully and was honorably buried.
He will be remembered, respected, and forever loved. And he never needed a cape.
photo courtesy of Stacy Turkoly