We are on the hunt for a new dog at our house. You see, we have an empty spot here since we lost our boy Chief in June. I just don’t feel like I can start loving the “new guy”, whoever he turns out to be, without first paying tribute to our Chiefy.
Rusty bought a house in the fall of 1998, right before we started dating. He talked nonstop about the reason why he got the house in the first place. Sure- a sound investment, awesome property value, impresses the ladies- but none of these were the REAL reason. The real reason was because he wanted to get a dog. And he talked about the dog nonstop. In March, as soon as he had built a fence, Rusty brought Chief home. We married the following December, and Rusty was fond of saying that he had Chief longer than he had me!
Chief was about 3 at the time, and was a law enforcement officer. At least he was supposed to be, but he had flunked out of the drug dog program. Chief could sniff drugs out with no problem. Unfortunately, when he found them, he “destroyed” the evidence by pooping on it. Also, he would be right on task: “FIND DRUGS FIND DRUGS FIND DRUGS” then suddenly “frolick and chase a squirrel!” would take over. And he would forget about the drugs. Not very becoming for an officer of the law.
So he flunked out, and Rusty brought him home. He was from the first to the last day, Rusty’s dog. Rusty would say of him “He’s my friend.” I would tell Chief “Sit!” and he would look at Rusty as if to say “Do I have to, Dad?” He was very protective of me and the kids though, always sweet and gentle. I always slept better when Rusty was out of town, knowing Chief was on duty.
The drug dog training made for some interesting incidents, though. Rusty and Chief would be out on a run or we would be out for a walk and every now and then, sweet, goofy grinning Chief would suddenly go INSANE as a person passed by, barking and jumping and pulling on the lead, and we would know that the innocent passerby was not so innocent. Once, we had a swarm of bees built a nest on the back of our house, and we called pest control. Three guys knocked on the door when they got to the house. I told them where the nest was and told them we had a dog back there. “No problem, ma’am, we’re used to animals. Is he friendly?” “Yes, he is, unless you have a substance abuse problem. Chief is a trained drug dog.” The two guys in front turned slowly and looked at the third guy behind who said “Uhhhhhh…..” “Why don’t I put the dog in the garage?” I offered. Sure enough, every time that guy walked past the garage, Chief went nuts.
For the last few years, as I unpack the Christmas decorations, and Chief’s stocking comes out of the box, I would start to wonder “Is this the last time we get to hang this?” Chiefy was 14 last Christmas, and showing some real signs of age. As I packed away his stocking on New Year’s weekend, I felt tears prick my eyes, knowing this was the last time to pack it away.
He started to fail in May, having trouble sitting down and then he stopped eating. Rusty headed to the vet with him knowing full well that because Chief was his friend, he had to love him enough to end his pain. So we said goodbye to our old friend.
We are looking forward to having a new friend, but we won’t forget our old one.