Lessons from a K-9 Officer

Different types of service dogs fascinate me. Police and military dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, prison dogs. The relationships these dogs have with their humans are different and ones that I don’t know about from first-hand experience. As I continue to work on my Dogs Know Best journey, I knew I wanted to learn more about these amazing dogs and the different relationships they have with their humans. My hometown of Stow, Ohio, has three K-9 officers in the police department, so I thought it would be a great place to start my exploration. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with K-9 Officer Ted Bell, a 15-year K-9 officer in the department, and his partner, Mingo. Mingo is Officer Bell’s third K-9 partner, and as you can imagine, he had some amazing stories to share. Officer Bell was extremely generous with his time, spending nearly two hours with me, telling stories of his partners over the years, Bruno, Nero and now Mingo. He shared his scrapbooks that documented their life together, catching bad guys and keeping our city safe. Most importantly, he took the time to explain – at times as best he could – the unique relationship that a K-9 officer has with his four-legged partner. I added “as best he could” because at points there just weren’t the words to express the bond they share. More on that in a minute. Officer Bell took me through the process of how the department gets a K-9 officer, in fact explaining how their vendor, Von der Haus Gill German Shepherds in Wapakoneta, OH, get their dogs from...

“Let the dove fly away so you can chase it again tomorrow.”

Even though we’re 12 years old, we still have to listen to our Mom because she will always make sure we’re safe and happy. She won’t let us do anything that will get us in trouble or may get us hurt. Occasionally we’re not happy about it, like when we’re trying to eat something extra special that we found on our walk. Or if we’re really close to catching that mourning dove we’ve been stalking. But she will tell us that we have to let the dove fly away so we can chase it again tomorrow, or we’ll have a tummy ache if we eat that really yummy treasure we found, so we reluctantly have to listen and let the dove fly away or leave our treasure behind (but trust us, we’ll remember exactly where it is and try again on our next walk).  The Dog to Human Translation: Like it or not, no matter how old you are, sometimes you have to listen to your Mom or Dad or mentor or trusted friend because they will know what will keep you safe or happy. It’s true, so don’t try and fight this fact. Even if you think you’re worldly, experienced, smart, or wise, you can always count on that one person in your life – likely when you least expect it. They have this inherent ability to see your life and your path and offer advice that will point you in the right direction. You may not realize it while they’re telling you, but maybe an hour later, a day later, or even after a year, you’ll realize...