His Last Day
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Another crisp bright day dawns. I stretch and yawn hugely.
Lovely smells coming from the kennel kitchens.
I think we are getting gravy on our breakfasts this morning, which usually means we have a very busy and important day in prospect.
My handler will come and fetch me straight after the kennel maid has given me my breakfast and brushed me.
It's the nice chubby girl this morning, she is always gentle when she gives me my worming pill or has to dress a cut paw.
Not like the tall girl who is always in a rush.
Once the rushing tall one forgot to fill my water bowl and I was very thirsty out on the job.
Chubby is giving me a special hug today, that was nice.
I lick her face and give her a paw.
She looks sad and says, "Never mind Jet you are going to be just fine."
She is kind and I nuzzle her hand to thank her for breakfast.
My Handler Bill is coming, I recognise his footsteps.
He is whistling a tune and pulling on his gloves.
I greet him wagging my tail in a sensible fashion, not whining and knocking him over like some of the young dogs in my block do.
"Morning Jet, good boy, come for your lead."
I run round him and sit, looking up waiting for him to clip on my lead.
"What a star you are. It's a quick walk for us, then we are going out to patrol a protest."
We walk up to the woodland behind the station where he lets me off the lead for a run around. I dash up the slope, but feel my leg hurting a bit as it is getting rather stiff these days, so I slow down.
I sniff around the trees to make sure no strangers have been there since yesterday, have a private minute behind the hedge and trot back to Bill.
He walks over to the hedge with a plastic bag for some reason!
"Come on Jet, off to the van we go."
He clips my lead back on and we go to the dog vehicle.
He opened the back door for me and I try to jump in. I must have stumbled because he gives me a help up.
He never lets me sit in the front, I have my own cage in the back and am always alert, ready to leap out when we stop. I am trained for duty.
The students are having a rally today, it is being reported on the van radio. We are to meet up with other police dog handlers and stop the protesters running down the street where the big glass windows are.
I am well used to this kind of assignment; I have done football matches, gay pride rallies, political demonstrations and search and find operations.
I can sniff out drugs and did a couple of years working at Manchester Airport.
You would be surprised at the kind of things humans put in their cases.
I know how to jump and bark to make people move to safety, it is called crowd control.
I have chased a burglar and brought him down by biting firmly onto his arm, not letting go until Bill calls "Enough Jet."
One day, a very long time ago now, we were in the park patrolling alongside the boating lake when we heard a lady shouting.
She was pointing across the lake where the fancy bridge crosses over to a little island.
She had seen some children cross the bridge all pushing each other and being silly, when suddenly a little girl fell into the lake.
The other children started screaming and there was an awful din.
Humans can certainly make a big fuss sometimes.
My Bill ordered me into the water and I swam strongly to the bridge.
The young girl was thrashing about even though the water wasn't very deep, but she was frightened.
When she saw me swimming towards her she stopped crying and put her arms around my neck, I dragged her to the edge of the lake.
I was praised and patted and one lady gave me a chocolate biscuit.
She kissed me which was very embarrassing.
My Bill came running up to clip on my lead saying it was all in a day's work.
The van is stopping; we must be at the student rally starting place.
We meet the other Handlers and I see my pal Storm.
He is trying to look tough, but I know he's nervous as he's quite new to the job.
I give him a reassuring push with my shoulder and he growls at me in fun.
"Behave you two." says his Handler firmly.
"I hope there isn't too much trouble on his last day Bill."
My Bill replies that we'll manage, we have done loads of these protests before.
"Have you got your new dog lined up yet?"
I look up at Storm's man, what is he talking about?
Then a gang of students come running down towards the junction.
We are to block the side road and keep the rally all together on the main road.
The Handlers and dogs line up to prevent them getting past.
My Bill steps forward and raises his hand telling them to go back, but the leading student, carrying a placard, keeps coming.
He waves the heavy wooden notice in front of him looking like he will strike my man.
I lunge forward and throw all my weight at his chest.
He goes down and I sit on top of him growling right in his ugly face.
The other students stop immediately, and Storm growls and barks as loud as he can, the other dogs join in and the protesters turn and go back onto the main road.
My Bill says "Enough Jet" so I get off the lunatic and stand by my man panting.
Bill pulls him to his feet and shouts at him to go back to the main road.
The student pulls up his hood and runs off forgetting his placard.
"Jet, you did well lad."
I get a pat and ruffled ear, but my leg really hurts.
I wag my tail and sit up straight to show the young dogs how it's done.
"I hope your new dog is as good as Jet." Storm's man says to Bill.
What are they on about?
We all split up and walk around the town to make sure there is no more trouble.
Later on, we drive back to the station and Bill takes me to the canteen.
He wants a cup of coffee and a bun.
Another police officer comes over to chat to us, he pulls up a chair and sits down.
"How are you feeling today Bill?" he asks "It won't be the same without Jet." He pats my head.
Bill replies "I know I shall miss the old fellow at work, but 11 is old for a working dog, especially some of the rough stuff he's had to deal with.
I start a new dog tomorrow, it's a bitch this time and apparently she has passed the first training course with flying colours."
I cannot believe my pricked ears! What do they mean? Am I dying? I know my leg hurts and I get a bit puffed sometimes, but this sounds serious.
I look at Bill questioning him, head on one side. I give him my paw.
"He knows, doesn't he?" said the police officer.
"Aye he does, he picks things up fast."
He strokes my head
"You're not going back to the kennels tonight old chap."
I whine and put both paws on his knees.
At home time we get into a smart red car instead of the dog van.
I'm allowed to sit on the back seat and look out the window.
We head away from the station and up to the village.
We motor slowly up a narrow driveway edged with trees, to a square house with big windows.
Two children come hurtling out of the house.
"Daddy's home, he's brought Jet. Daddy, please let him out to play with us" Bill opens the car door and tells me to get out and sit down.
I am hugged and squeezed, I give them a paw and they tell me I am clever.
"Try not to smother him" laughs Bill, "He has a lot to get used to."
"Come in Jet" calls a lady who must belong to Bill.
She shows me a basket with a blanket and cushion.
"This is your new bed Jet, and the children have bought you a welcome present."
Inside the basket is a rubber squeaky chicken, what on earth is it for?
I think I'm expected to play with it.
I'm really tired after our busy day so I lie in my new basket getting used to the smells of the warm kitchen.
My new job began this morning.
Bill went off to work without me and I wondered what to do.
Bill's lady was giving breakfast to the children, packing bags and finding lost shoes.
The little girl told me they were starting school today and I was to walk alongside to keep them safe.
They put on their coats and gloves, the lady collected her shopping bag, clipped on my lead and we set off to school.
I walked slowly and carefully by the children to make sure they didn't run into the road.
At the school playground all the children ran to see me and Bill's little girl held my face between her hands and exclaimed,
"He is the most loveliest bestest dog in the whole wide world."
I have to agree.
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