HE may look like an average family pet but Tosh the springer spaniel has been at the forefront of the war on drugs across the county.

His nose has been responsible for helping to sniff out £700,000 of illegal drugs in his last few years of service alone.

As a passive drugs dog with Hampshire police’s dog unit, Tosh has been trained to smell out substances on people who may be carrying or who have recently used drugs.

But after nearly seven years in the job, Tosh is heading to Civvy Street to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

The disease rickets, with which he was born, is now starting to take its toll and Tosh needs longer to recover from drug operations that can leave him struggling to walk.

Handler PC Guy Hall said: “It is a really sad time and difficult too. We have been together for nearly seven years and during that time we have put the world to rights during our shifts.

“He is so full of energy but he really does struggle if he has been working all day.”

The lively hound came to the force after he was found abandoned by a rescue centre in the Midlands and staff there recognised his potential as a drugs dog.

He was put through his paces and trained to recognise any banned substance by indicating when he smelt it.

PC Hall explained: “They are trained to indicate when they smell any drug and then they are rewarded by being given their favourite toy and being made a fuss of. They then link smelling that smell to getting their favourite thing.”

Tosh has been a regular fixture at festivals in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and goes on routine patrols at Southampton Airport, the ferry ports, train stations and night-spots in a bid to help stamp out the supply and use of drugs. He is also a vital tool in engaging with the public as he gets his fair share of attention when in a crowd.

And all he requires after a hard shift on the front line is a chew on his beloved tennis ball and a tickle on the tum.

“He loves to work and really enjoys it but it is time to call it a day,” added PC Hall.

Tosh has now been found a home near Oxford after PC Hall, who has been with the dog unit for nine years, decided he could not keep him.

He said: “Tosh would just get jealous of the other dogs if he saw me taking them to work and not him. It has been really hard, particularly for my two young kids who have grown up with Tosh but it is the right thing to do. After a few weeks with his new owner I am sure he will forget all about me, but he has been a fantastic dog and I will miss him.”