Author Topic: My Explosive Detection dog is retiring due to illness...a bit heartbroken  (Read 602 times)

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Offline Mesaclone

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He's been a true soldier for his country, working his butt off for the last 6 years at Sky Harbor here in Phoenix. Wrote a little farewell to the 900 employees here who know and have worked side by side with him for so long...he's a bit of a celebrity here in AZ. Just wanted to share this write up I did for him to some of you I consider friend's on the site here. Hope it's interesting, I'm guessing more than a few of you are dog lovers!

Best damn Explosive Detection Dog in all of DHS...really stinks that he won't be able to enjoy a long and comfortable retirement.  FYI, he's a Black Labrador with the heart of a true warrior and and he deserves this little epitaph:



The Goofy Dog

Nobody believes in love at first sight any more. Few people believe that the bonds of true friendship and respect can be forged in an instant. Philosophers and wise men would argue that ties between man and beast are simply utilitarian, dictated by instinct and training repetition. Preachers and scholars often opine that animals cannot possibly have souls. Scientists assert that a dog, being a mere animal of the genus Canis Familiaris cannot feel or emote beyond the dictates of pack drive and survival motivations. They are all wrong. I’m a personal witness to the fallacy of this misperception and rest assured, I am far from the only one. With one word, I can refute every wise philosopher, pastor and learned scientist on this topic. Brian.

On my first introduction to Brian, it was immediately clear that this was not your normal dog. For one, he walked in a strange kind of “dug in” low crawl. His legs seemed to refuse to straighten, remaining oddly coiled up and keeping him low to the ground as he circled and barked within his kennel. Even stranger, his back legs were oddly short and squat, giving the impression of a coal black Hyena with his rear legs shortened at the knees. His ears were not just floppy, they were pushed down and held back as if he was afraid of what might happen next. And yet, in the first moment that we met, he began to wag his tail and I knew then we were going to be inseparable.

Brian’s tail wag is not just a wag. It’s a wag that reverberates through his whole being. It’s as if his tail is shaking his whole body, with his hindquarters moving like Elvis on stage throwing his pelvis at a startled TV evangelist in the 1950’s. This tail wag works its way up to his front shoulders and head, making him appear to be saying “no” over and over again. But the truth is, in his whole life he’s never really said no to anyone or anything. He lives to please…and to have fun every day. He would literally jump through fire and cross burning coals to play and interact with someone who’s nice to him. That drive makes him a great working dog. More importantly, to me at least, it makes him a truly good soul.

Of course, Brian knows none of this about his tail wag or his soul. He doesn’t have one ounce of self-consciousness, something I envy in him. His full body wag and the spark in his eyes were my first and will be my last impression of him, and if its true that all dogs go to heaven…my first sight past the pearly gates will be a goofy looking black dog shaking his hips like Elvis coiling to jump into my lap. Brian and I have worked together and been inseparable for 5 years now. We have struggled and failed, succeeded and learned and generally fought hard to help people travel safely and without fear. That fight will go on without him, but his presence on the front line will be missed every day.

Neither Brian nor myself are truly selfless nor perfectly dedicated, we share moments of laziness and boredom…and our favorite day is payday (his payday comes in the form of a black kong toy)…and we eagerly look forward to arriving home to our respective comforts (My couch, his cushioned kennel under the stairs at the house…where his nickname is Hairy Potter).  But it is always true that we both care deeply about our mission, the hunt for explosives consumes us each day and he is relentless in sniffing them out. In fairness, he thinks he’s just looking for his ball…but that’s a passion too =).

I’ve learned far more from him over these 5 years than he has from me but for the most part we learned and grew together both at work and in our own lives. Where I go, he goes. When I feel poorly, he does. When he wants to bark at a passing dog, I want to yell at the owner to get the heck out of our work area. When a cute poodle walks by…well…that’s all him, but we both enjoy the sights and sounds at the airport! We are a strange, far from pretty, but damn effective symbiosis of man and beast both made better and more effective by the presence of the other. And I would add, this is true of all our canine teams at Sky Harbor.

So, I’m writing this letter as a goodbye to and from Brian…at least to “work” Brian…and to tell those who’ve known him that he is now moving on to the final chapter of his life. He will no longer be patrolling Sky Harbor, where he’s been a fixture for the last 5 years. Brian was recently diagnosed with Cardio-Myopathy, a very serious congestive heart failure that will take his life sometime in the next 6-12 months. 

So for the next week, Brian will be walking around the airport to say farewell to the place and people that he’s served and loved for these past years. Many of you know him well and I know you will miss him so please feel free to come up and say farewell to him. Brian is not as energetic as he once was but he is still well enough to get around and is happy to engage with anyone and everyone who talks to him. After this week, and maybe part of next week, Brian will be spending his time at home just being a “real dog” and relaxing…which has always been his favorite thing to do.

@Emjay
@Maj. Bill Martin
@Right_in_Virginia
@mystery-ak
@Jazzhead
@corbe
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 03:51:26 PM by Mesaclone »

Offline Freya

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What,,,, 8888crybaby

I’m so sorry
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Offline Maj. Bill Martin

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Damn onions....

I'm very sorry you and your family are losing one of your own.  Losing a loved animal always hurts.  And Brian sounds like a very special guy.

Offline roamer_1

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That just sucks. There's really not a lot harder to do than lose a dog, one that you work with every day. Whether our differences @Mesaclone , my sincere condolences and best wishes go with you in this.

Online austingirl

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@Mesaclone

Thank you for posting this beautiful tribute to your friend. I'm glad he'll spend his remaining time with someone who loves him so much.

My little Rocky was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and lasted for two years on the medication. I knew the exact moment when his heart failed and the vet came to the house in less than an hour.

Treasure your time and God bless you both.
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Online Emjay

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Damn onions....

I'm very sorry you and your family are losing one of your own.  Losing a loved animal always hurts.  And Brian sounds like a very special guy.

We had two black Labs both of them were wonderful in their own way but Stewart was the weirdo.  My husband bonded with him very deeply and had a hard time with Stewart's passing.

I'm glad Brian will have some down time for fun.

Bless you both.
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Offline Mesaclone

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Thanks to everyone for the kind words, you're just a great bunch of people. Brian's worked so hard for so many years...I'm just trying to make sure he has as much fun as possible these next few months. He's definitely enjoying himself right now...parked on the couch next to me waiting for The Five to come on Fox!

I'm biased, Emjay, but I'm just a huge fan of Labs...my new dog is a GSP so its an adjustment trying to get used to her behaviors. I'm sure she'll be great in time but Brian is a hard act to follow. Very sorry about Stewart's passing...give my condolences to your husband.

God bless all of you!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 04:53:47 PM by Mesaclone »

Offline Right_in_Virginia

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I'm so sorry to hear this. 

Damn, this is tough.  Sending a *big hug* your way.



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Offline InHeavenThereIsNoBeer

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Dang sorry to hear this.

I'm going through the same.  While my mutt never had a job, I've worked from home almost exclusively or been retired since I got her as a pup, so we've been together pretty much constantly her whole life.


Offline GrouchoTex

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It's tough to go through.
I've been there and now have a 15 yr old beagle going through the end of his life now.

Offline EasyAce

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May your friend cross the Rainbow Bridge in peace.

Offline libertybele

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@Mesaclone I too am a dog lover and your story brought tears to me eyes.  It's so difficult to part with a furry family member.  My thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope that you are able to enjoy Brian's final days with him as fully as possible...parked next to you on the couch sounds wonderful!  Hugs to you both.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 07:53:19 PM by libertybele »
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Offline goodwithagun

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Damn. I hope his trip over the rainbow bridge is peaceful.
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Offline RoosGirl

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@Mesaclone So sorry to hear this news.  I was just reading up on cardiomyopathy in dogs a few weeks ago.  You may know about this already, but there is some evidence that taurine supplement can be helpful. 

I have owned GSPs for almost 20 years and have bred 1 litter.  I think you'll be quite pleased with her work once she is trained and if I can help with any questions specific to the breed let me know.
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Offline Sanguine

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@Mesaclone, that's a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. 
Cui bono?

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See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Offline SZonian

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So sorry to hear this...

My thoughts, sympathies and prayers to you and Brian.

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Offline Mesaclone

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@Mesaclone So sorry to hear this news.  I was just reading up on cardiomyopathy in dogs a few weeks ago.  You may know about this already, but there is some evidence that taurine supplement can be helpful. 

I have owned GSPs for almost 20 years and have bred 1 litter.  I think you'll be quite pleased with her work once she is trained and if I can help with any questions specific to the breed let me know.

Thanks Roosgirl, I've actually got him on Taurine and Carnitine along with a set of 4 other meds (Vetmedin being the primary one). This stuff is not cheap, let me tell you, and the Feds don't help cover the cost...once he's retired officially, which he now is...its all on the Handler to cover costs.

That said, he is well worth a few hundred bucks a month...I just wish there was something more I could do for him. I think the most important thing for me is to know when its time to let him go. For now, he's comfortable, though I have to be very careful to keep him calm so his heart rate doesn't take off. Before we had diagnosed him, he almost passed out a couple of times at work...not going to take any chances with him now.

Thanks again for your kind words and thoughts.

Offline mystery-ak

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Beautiful tribute to your buddy.

Most here have gone through this..I have several times now..and it never gets easier.

Hope you don't mind I posted this on FB and twitter

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Offline Mesaclone

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@Mesaclone, that's a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.

He really is a beautiful soul...honestly, dogs are just a gift to humanity. I enjoyed every day he and I worked together, after a while its like the two of you can read each other's thoughts and anticipate everything the other is going to do. Its very rewarding and I'm very lucky to have the experience of it.

With my new dog, its back to the basics of building a relationship and learning each other's body language...I really think she is going to be a fantastic bomb dog in time, but it still feels strange not having Brian at the end of the leash every day.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 09:35:20 PM by Mesaclone »

Offline Mesaclone

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Beautiful tribute to your buddy.

Most here have gone through this..I have several times now..and it never gets easier.

Hope you don't mind I posted this on FB and twitter

I don't mind at all. I'm just so grateful for all the kind words here...so many people have had such great experiences with their dogs. What a great day it was for mankind when the first wolf wandered into a village and stayed around to begin the long symbiotic relationship between our two species.

Offline Jazzhead

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Beautiful, @Mesaclone     Just can't beat a dog, a boon companion and keeper of secrets.   I can't a imagine what it's like to team with a highly trained explosives-sniffing dog.   Mine's just a mop of a terrier,  who turned ten today, and greets me at the door.

 That's enough, of course.   

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Offline Freya

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Praying for you
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Offline Suppressed

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@Mesaclone, what a wonderful tribute.  Congratulations to Brian on his retirement.  I hope it's wonderful for the time he has left.  He knows he's loved, that's for sure!
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Offline Weird Tolkienish Figure

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@Mesaclone I am truly sorry to hear this, my condolences. Loss of pets is a hard thing to go through.
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