Bless our dogged cops

What a handsome fellow this Beacon, decked out with a flag kerchief and a U.S. Marshal’s badge. You can print out a trading card with Beacon provided you don’t have a photo editing program guaranteed to drive you into running fits — what my Dad used to call something dogs did when they went crazy. I never saw a dog into running fits, by the way.

Beacon failed "guide dog" school because of a fondness for chasing squirrels. But I mean, who can blame the fella? His loss is the US Marshal's Service gain as an explosive sniffer.

I never saw a dog with a badge, well, not a four-legged kind until my first news assignment with then el presidente Jorge W. Bush. The dog was, if I remember correctly, an ATF dog-agent-dog and had a nice badge hanging from his neck in a leather case. I didn’t even have a badge to wear that time. I didn’t need no stinkin’ badges! Later when on a couple of occasions I was a local pool reporter I had a stinkin’ badge made out of cardboard. I still have a couple of them. Well, one is cardboard and the other is cardboard with a picture of Jorge driving his “pick-em-up truck” on one side and the White House, if I remember correctly, on the other. The badge is laminated. Ain’t I something?

Dogs are about the best thing with which one could associate except a good girlfriend (lady friend, female friend, I should maybe say that I now am age 55.) The latter is especially true as my dear, late friend Waldo Miller used to say  as long at the lady “drives your pickup for you and feeds your dog.” I always had to add as long she would also open your gate for you. I learned this living out in the country on Kingtown Road and had to either open the lock at the end of the heavy chain on my gate or have someone else to do it.  But I am getting way off course.

I love dogs. I have had trouble with a few, mostly little farts like the one who used to live next door to Waldo’s place when we were in high school. This little mutt would come out and sink its teeth into my ankle. It’s owner was a lawyer who was off and on our hometown’s district attorney. I’d complain about the little dog but mainly just inquire if it had its rabies shots. It had supposedly.

There is no doubt why TV, especially local TV news audiences love stories about police dogs which are turned into as much human as is possible without giving them a credit card.  We are a society which has long looked at animals, especially domestic ones, through an anthropomorphic lens. (Thanks so, so, much to the Beaumont Public Library Reference Librarian, who quickly came up with this word I was trying to remember but couldn’t. You rock!)

One peculiarity of modern news media is making police dogs into “K-9 officers.” I mean, it’s cute and all. And it’s police lingo which especially young reporters get hooked into early and will not shed unless they have a well-meaning but mean ol’  editor with a dislike for lingo. I covered the police beat quite a lot in my years as a reporter. I have to admit that it took quite awhile to get rid of an indirect quote from an officer who says a victim was “transported” by “Lifeflight” or who was “Lifeflighted” as opposed to just writing that the injured or wounded person was flown by medical helicopter  to  such and such a hospital.

Thus, “Officers and K-9 units, searched for hours.” That is okay if the K-9 units included a human and a canine.  But to consider  a dog as a “K-9” unit sounds odd if you think about calling old “Beacon” above, a unit.

“That unit sure can sniff out bombs.”

“Have you ever seen a unit strike such a handsome dog pose?

“Will you please get someone over here pronto to clean up the crap just taken by that unit?”

I have known a few police officers who trained and patrolled with dogs and would have just as soon spent their entire career riding the roads with their four-legged, friends. Dogs don’t tell you their dating problems, not usually at least. Dogs don’t  mind if you skipped a shower after an all-night bender unless you are teetering over the edge on your job. I used to work across the street in a small town where one of the police officers had a well-trained black Lab that was just remarkable going after lime-green tennis balls scrubbed with crack. I never actually saw the dog, whose name I have now forgotten, work catching those who transported weed or cocaine up U.S. 59  north of Houston. But Don, the cop who worked across the street from my office, would let me know whenever the black Lab would make a good score.

Personally, I think the so-called “war on drugs” is a waste of time. That is, at least a good portion of it. I think marijuana should be legalized. Other drugs should be carefully examined for their legality or illegality.  This “war” has caused so many lives to be ruined, ended, it has resulted in so much prison space needed for bad people, not sick or addicted people, to go missing.

That’s just me, though. I have a tremendous respect for the vast majority of the police officers in state, federal and local governments who risk their lives whether their threats come from drugs, greed, stupidity, insanity, politics, terror, or whatever. I include the “K-9 units” even if they are just dogs and live a dogs life.

I hope the dogs go home just as safely as the guys and ladies who wear the badges return home each day. That’s about all I have to say today. Hope you all, both two, four or however many legged people read this, have a great weekend as well. Wuff!

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