Author Bev McQuain (a guy with a girl’s name) has written a book about the funny and bizarre things that have happened with dogs and their handlers over the forty years that he owned Canada’s largest canine security company. One bittersweet story that did not belong in the humor book is about an old patrol dog named Victor who wanted nothing more than to chase squirrels…
Victor had been retired, and enjoying life just rolling in the grass and soaking up the sun in the yard after working all his adult life accompanying security officers at golf courses, condominiums, concerts, construction projects, etc…
The dogs lived in the kennel, and went to work with officers at night. Vic was a favorite with the guards. He loved going to work. He was happy, friendly, and obedient. He was, however, small animal aggressive. When he spotted a squirrel or chipmunk, he would tense, shiver and whine. He was easily controlled, with a “No”, but as long as the furry thing was in view, it commanded his rigid attention. On some sites, the squirrels learned that the dogs could not chase them, so as squirrels are wont to do, they teased the patrolling canines.
Alas, Victor was afflicted with cardiomyopathy (an enlarging heart). My twenty-four hour staff provided tender loving care for the old guy, but eventually his quality of life deteriorated to the point that it was time to make that final visit to the vet.
The sad journey took us through a densely wooded area, where I seized the opportunity to avoid the dreaded final sleep at the veterinary clinic. Victor and I took a walk in the woods, and were immediately scolded by a pair of black squirrels. When Vic tensed, I released the leash clip and commanded, “Get ‘em!”
The big Dobe took a tentative step, and looked back at me. His ears pressed forward as if to say, “Do you mean it? … Did I misunderstand? … I’m confused.”
Instead of the accustomed, “No! Stay! Don’t touch,” he was sure he heard, “Get ‘em.” Did he hear right?
Again I shouted, “Get him! Good dog, Get him,” and Vic lunged forward.
The dog, finally freed to attack the nemesis that had tormented him all these years, flew as fast as his weary body could drive him. He raced after them, slowing slightly and gasping for breath, but pressing on to a final leap as the varmints scrambled up a maple tree… and the hunter fell to the ground, dead.
I smiled through my tears, knowing that this best friend’s last moment was the happiest in years.