Monday, July 11, 2011

Educated by a Dog: 25 Lessons I learned from the life of my K9 partner

About a month ago I had to put my partner down. She was a 12 year old lab/Chesapeake mix. She rode along on patrol with me for her entire life. She lived to go to work. Though she wasn't trained to sniff drugs, she sniffed her share of birds, entertained me, was an extra set of eyes and ears, and was my constant partner and friend. She developed a massive tumor on her spleen and I had to make a decision for my partner. Her collar hangs from my rearview mirror of my squad now and the truck is a much lonelier place. Out of habit, I still say, "Stay" every time I get out of my truck. Here is a list of 25 things I learned from her life:

25. Don't let anyone lead you down a path you don't want to take. Dig in your heels, put your head down, and charge forward in your own direction.

24. Be tolerant of a point.

23. Give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Greet everyone with an enthusiastic smile and a kiss until they give you reason not to.

22. Baby bunnies are fun playmates...until they stop squealing.

21. There is more to a walk than walking. Go out of your way to splash through puddles, get your tongue tickled by cicadas, and do somersaults in the grass.

20. Quit worrying about whether you wll be able to stand up unassisted tomorrow and climb the hill right now- there might be something good up there. If not, it is still better than staying at the bottom.

19. Don't ask what lives in that hole. Stick your head in, take a good whiff, and start digging. Curiosity only kills cats.

18. Just because everyone else fetches on command does not mean that you have to. You are an individual-think for yourself. But it isn't a bad idea to humor them now and then.

17. One animal's waste is another's perfume (or snack). Re-purpose.

16. When it comes to dropped food, the five second rule applies. So does the two week rule.

15. Halitosis is in the nose of the beholder. My people love me just the way I am.

14. Lively conversation is not a requirement of a good friendship. A silent shadow can be more comfort than a thousand words.

13. No matter what anyone tells you to the contrary, there is no fun to be had at the doctor.

12. Don't be self-conscious. When you are happy, run like you have a worm in your brain; when you are sad, put your head down and sit quietly until someone notices; if you have an itch, scratch it; if something needs to be cleaned, lick it.

11. Forgive and forget. Quickly.

10. Love your work. At least appreciate going for a ride and watching the world go by.

9. Chasing birds in a dream can be just as much fun as chasing birds while awake. Use your imagination.

8. Performing tricks for treats is just silly. Stare at them until they give you one.

7. Don't waste a good snow day.

6. You only get one chance at this life, so live it for all it is worth...unless you are really sleepy, in which case a nap is good too.

5. Don't let a few gray hairs get your down. They indicate you have reached alpha status and no longer need to listen.

4. Macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, and bacon are always worth the resulting stomachache. Just remember that consuming carpet, Elmo underwear, and blankets won't make it feel better.

3. Christmas songs by Alvin and the Chipmunks reach unnatural and confusing decibels. They should be banned from the radio.

2. Be there for your friend. Always.

1. Leave your mark wherever you go. Make people glad to have known you.


  1. So Happy I have found your blog! Lve this post..heck I love it so much I read outloud to the three hounds lazing at my feet :)

  2. Thank you thank you thank you! I'm glad you found the blog too- I wondered if anyone ever would!

  3. By the way- I'll trade you a link for a link?

  4. Thank you for the comment - it is also great to hear from you! There are not many women in the fishing industry, so I am really happy to hear from you!

    I am so sorry you lost your best friend. Tears were in my eyes after I read this, as she looks just like my dog Lacey that passed away last year.

    I look forward to reading your blog, thanks again!! :)

  5. I am so sorry about the loss of your partner...but this was a beautiful post. I am so glad I found your blog. I will definitely be returning frequently. You write the most interesting posts I've read in a long while...

  6. Thank you so much. That means a lot. I only have time to write between work and chasing children around. I miss my pup SO much, and I think about her every time I get into my truck without her. Her collar hangs from my rear-view mirror and her tags give a jingle now and then, reminding me... but it helped to come up with my "Top 25 list". Thanks again for reading. I added your site as a link.

  7. Thanks so much for adding me! This post was very fresh to my heart as my best friend and partner just lost his cat this weekend...many tears since. And I can't imagine when my dog Banjo's time comes. Animals aren't 'just animals.' Cheers to you...

  8. I started tearing up reading your opening paragraph. We've got three dogs buried in our back yard, and I cried every time. Yes, this big macho guy has a soft spot for dogs.

  9. Yep, it is just something about dogs....

  10. I wanted to find a favorite but I love them all.

  11. Excellent post. I love it. So sorry about your pup.

  12. Thank you all for reading about my girl. I'm glad this post is getting so much attention-she deserves all of it and more.

  13. Amen Brotha! Iam posting on Hardcore Huntin' Music FB page :)

  14. Great post and I too am sorry for your loss. Have had to lay to rest 2 hunting partners and it hurts just as much every time. As I sit here with my soon to be 12 year old Lab, Jet. I know all to well what lies ahead. Yet I will not be without a Lab. They give us so much and I wish you all the best with your new pup!

  15. As a fellow dog lover and breeder, I thank you for this post - so true!!!

  16. Your loving words brought tears of joy and sadness to an old man's eyes. You speak from the heart and captured the essence of your beloved partner. You blog is a special place.