I decided to write this memorial to my friend and patrol partner Grendel who was never considerd just a dog but a member of the family. She wasn't the largest of German Shepherds but she had the strongest wills and worked so hard to please.
My wife and I left for a Coast Guard Flotilla meeting this morning and when we returned we immediately knew there was something wrong. Grendel was laying down in the shade and was not responding to our calls. We immediately went to investigate and could see her labored breathing. She managed to get to her feet and made her way to my wife. Her legs were barely able to support her weight. She then came over to me and leaned against my legs as she had always done since she was a puppy. I held her against my legs and stroked her head. I spoke to her trying to comfort her. She then moved a short distance away from me and collapsed. We burried her under the tree that had given her shade and comfort.
Writing this is my therapy for coping with the loss. I wanted to pass on some funny and interesting experiences that I know that dog owners and especially K-9 officers can relate to.
When I first started training Grendel for narcotics detection we took one of her rope tug toys and gave it to the Chief of Palmer, TX PD. He soaked it in water and placed it in a large bag of seized marijuana and let it dry. After a week he brought back the rope toy that reeked to high heaven. I kept this toy for years and it became her reward toy.
My wife decided that she wanted a dog so we adopted a Collie from the local SPCA and named him Paddy. We bought him toys and rawhide chews on the way home. Paddy is a very easy going dog so when we arrived home Grendel had to show Paddy his place in the pecking order. She pinned him on the ground a few times then gathered up all her toys and the new ones we bought for Paddy; put them in a pile and laid on them. Once Paddy had realized his place they became best buds. I have never seen two dogs that really loved each other as much as these two. They would bring each other toys to play with.
As Grendel's training progressed I got together with K-9 officers from Palmer and Ennis for some training in Ennis. One of the Ennis officers had hidden some drugs on the frame of garbage truck and Grendal was up next to locate it. I met with the Ennis officer at the front of the truck and turned Grendel loose to locate the dope. Being a smaller dog she quickly ran under the truck and back out. It happened so fast I believed she was looking for direction from me. I sent her back under the truck telling her to "find the dope". The Ennis officer standing next to me was laughing at me directing my confused dog. He bent over and stood up holding the bag of dope. He was still laughing and said she found it the first time and dropped it at your feet. She wasn't wanting direction, she was wanting her reward.
My wife was vacuming the house when she accidentily sucked up Paddy's tail in the vacuum cleaner. Paddy yelped and Grendal sensing her "little brother" was in danger, lept into action and attacked the "evil" vacuum cleaner.
We all know that dogs love to stick their heads out of the window to get ram air while we are driving and Grendel was no exception, but when I installed the window guards Grendel pouted for almost two weeks.
Late one evening we were on duty and watching a stop sign that people had a tendency to ignore. We were sitting in a field in the dark when I heard Grendel begin to growl. I turned around and I could see the hair on her back standing up. She was looking out the passenger side window. I turned off anything that was producing light to see if I could see what she was growling at. I could see nothing. As she continued to growl I became concerned for our safety. I began looking out of all the windows but I could see nothing. After about 10 minutes I couldn't take it any more. I quielty got out of the car and released Grendel. She immediately made a bee line for a small fire hydrant. smelled it, and returned to the car. At a distance the fire hydrant looked like a small person. After the adrenaline wore off, I decided it was time to change locations.
Any K-9 officer knows that the patrol car belongs to the dog. The dog tolerates us because they need someone to drive them around. All officers enjoy pulling off a good joke on one another but here is one that backfired. One of the Crandal, TX PD officers we train with told me after I came out of a convenience store that he had gotten into my car to turn on my emergency lights forgetting that the dog was in the car. He said he was just about to turn the lights on when he heard a noise to his right. He looked right and he was nose to nose with Grendel who was leaning through the open partition. He said she went "erf" and he was out of there.
I think the biggest battle I had with Grendel was keeping her out of the back window. I don't know how many times I had to straighten out my rear deck lights because Grendel had forced her way onto the rear deck. I had stopped a gravel hauler who had not secured his trailer tailgate and was spreading gravel on the freeway at 60 mph.
A gentleman had pulled up who had minor damage to his windshield and wanted to get the insurance information from the truck driver. Now this man was about three times my size and Grendel went wild when she saw him come up behind me. She forced herself into the back window and appeared to be trying to claw her way through. This scared the man next to me who asked me if she could get out. I informed him if she does we are both running.
Grendel had a very low bark which made her sound larger than she was. She eventually learned that she could scare people just by barking at them and shaking the car. She got so good at this that she would wait until the person was right by the side window before slamming into the window guard barking. She pulled this on a poor state trooper who was walking by during an accident investigation. I was parked completely off the shoulder. The trooper jumped at least 5 feet into the traffic lane. Luckily the lane was shut down due to the accident.
As police officers we know that our trained suspicious nature is hard to break and so it was for Grendel. I had been moved to investigations and so Grendel was at home. It was so heartbreaking to see her get so excited and ready to go to work and then so disappointed when I did not let her get in the car. I finally started taking her in when I worked weekends so that she wouldn't pout so much. While at the house, Grendel checked every vehicle that pulled into our drive, mailman, deliverymen, etc... Check frisked the vehicles just like she was trained. Our Collie saw her doing this and began to follow her doing what she did but not knowing why she was doing what she was doing. It was really kind of funny seeing this police dog at work and this sweet but stupid Collie copying her. We scheduled a Sears repairman to look at our distressed riding lawnmower to see if it could be repaired. The repairman parked his truck in the driveway got out and went around the side of the house to where the lawnmower was parked. Grendel did her sniff around, scratched at the truck and then took off to where the repairman was. My wife reported no growling or barking but shortly after grendel ran to where the repairman was, the repairman came back around and accused Grendel of being viscious and left. Curious, huh?