passed away Saturday, February 10, 2007, and he took a little bit of me with
him. He was thirteen years old. To me he was my best friend, my guardian and my
partner. Devo is with his friends now, chasing his ball, or a cat, or spreading
the trash around the floor looking for food even though he just ate. Not a
minute goes by that I don't miss his presence. I believe in time the sadness
will be somewhat replaced by the wonderful memories of times we had together and
the life we shared.
Devo loved people, especially children. While this dog had an amazing capacity for love, he also had the heart of a lion. He did his job because he loved it.
When I first saw Devo at the vendors he acted like he wanted to attack everyone he saw. He jumped nearly six feet straight up in the kennel as we approached, growling and barking. He passed all the tests with flying colors. When it was time to load him in the crate for his ride to his new home, he bit one of the handlers, drawing his first blood! The other handler looked at me and said I was going to have "fun" when I got home and released him from his cage! In the car I sat next to him. Devo was growling and snarling at me through the cage. I kept thinking of that word "fun" the other handler had used! About half way home (on this six hour trip) we went through the drive thru at McDonalds, where I got a Big Mac. As I was eating I noticed something was different: the growling next to me was now replaced by a loud curious "sniffing"! I looked at Devo and decided to offer him a piece of hamburger. He growled as my hand approached, but gladly took the offered treat. I offered a second and a third. The growling stopped, the mad glazing eyes cooled and the tail began wagging. With help from McDonalds, Devo and I began what was to be a life long friendship. When we got home it was "fun" letting him out of his cage and into my life.
During Devo's career he made many felony apprehensions. If suspects run, hide or try to fight the dog, they get a 75 lb German Shepherd attached to them. Many of Devo's apprehensions were made without bites. When they saw that big dog running full speed toward them they simply gave up. Many of them were so frightened by his appearance that by the time I caught up to where Devo had them they had the tell-tale wet spot on the front of their pants and some had an unpleasant odor about them....
On one special task we responded to a Code-3 cover call to assist SWAT in foot pursuit of a homicide suspect who was possibly armed. We were close by and arrived in seconds. I saw the SWAT officers in full gear with their M-16s chasing the bad guy down the street. They were yelling "stop or we will shoot." The bad guy kept running. I jumped from my car with Devo at my side and yelled "stop or I will send the dog!". The suspect immediately stopped and laid down on the ground. The suspect later told me he was more afraid of the dog than getting shot!
On another occasion Devo found a suspect who was hiding in the bushes. The suspect was holding a gun under his chest. The suspect said that when Devo bit him he forgot all about the loaded gun, possibly deterring any searching officer from getting hurt.
We will never know how many lives Devo saved by locating concealed bad guys, but we all felt safer with him out front searching than with us stumbling along blindly looking for a hidden suspect.
I enjoyed working with Devo but what I will really miss is his companionship. It seems so unfair that such a wonderful animal has but a short time on this earth. The qualities that dogs--German Shepherds in particular--possess by nature are so cherished by humans but rarely attained: unconditional love and loyalty to name two.
My wife was
with Devo when he passed; she was holding him, stroking his fur and talking to
him. It deeply affected both of us but I am glad he didn't have to go through it
alone. This house will never be the same without him.
Devo's tombstone will read: "Rest In Peace my True Friend"
there when I needed you
You were there when He needed you
You were there when they needed you.
Where are you now?
You loved me
You loved him
You loved them
How do I love now?
There is a bridge they say
Don't mourn you say
Time heals all
What about us?
Need, love, a bridge and time.
Go then over that bridge and take with you our love because in time after we mourn we will all be together again.