Thursday, June 29, 2006

Big Dog

Every once in a while I have a chance to work near or around dogs; not a big deal most of the time since I’ve got a couple myself. I’m aware that dogs are territorial by nature and so it makes a difference on whether the dog is on his own property or just roaming around loose.

I had to make keys to a Buick Regal this afternoon, one that had been towed in on a wrecker and parked in the field behind a small car dealership. No sooner had I parked my truck to begin work when another fellow drove his trunk up and pointed to a trailer that he wanted to hook up; I needed to move up and give him enough room and then get back to my own job.

I made the door key and it worked fine. The ignition used a double sided key with a VAT chip, something that would take a bit more time. Tim, the owner came walking back, happy that I’d made progress as he stood next to me, making small talk and trying to make some kind of point.

“Dogs don’t bother you do they.” He said, half way between a question and a statement of fact. “You parked much further back than I thought you would.” Tim had once been a police officer and he was trying to tell me something, his quiet manner not much different than usual as I looked around. I noticed a cable that lay on the ground that disappeared from view as it went under a truck parked off to the side.

“No, dogs and I get along most of the time.” I looked a little closer and saw the shape of a nose, a rather large nose in the shadows under the truck. His watch dog was content to let me work as he slept in the 90 degree mid day heat, tucked away in the cool shade provided by the truck.

“My Rottweiler is kind of picky about letting anyone back here.” I glanced at the length of cable and calculated that it would not have made any difference; the car I was working on was within reach regardless of where I’d parked. I continued working and kept an eye out for movement under the truck. I decided to back my truck up, mostly to make my friend Tim feel better.

“If he bites me it’ll show up in the final bill”, I joked knowing that I was already going to make a good bit on VAT key job.

The Rottweiler came over and wanted to see what was going on, giving my leg a sniff and taking note of some residual odor from my dogs worthy of a second sniff. Satisfied that I wasn’t a bad guy the dog returned to the shade and I completed the job, the only sweat produced was from the heat of the day, not from worrying about the dog.

I ended up having to remove and repair the ignition switch; there were a couple of bent wafers preventing it from working properly. Once those damaged parts were replaced it worked the way it was supposed to.

I remember having encountered big dogs while working as a police officer. One evening my regular partner and I were walking past one of the blue and whites parked on the hill behind the police station on our way up to the office. The back window was down, something which should have alerted us as we casually walked past. From the back seat all we could see was a dog with huge jaws snapping out a warning as our confidence level fell off the scale. “So that’s what the K-9 units look like!”

We made a burglary of an auto parts store one Sunday on the near East End of town. The bad guys had taken a parking meter and heaved it through the front window to gain entry. Upon arrival we made some quick observations, the first was that there was no way we were going to be able to enter the store; a black German Shepherd had taken up a position where the post lay inside the broken window. We tried to contact the owner; but he was unavailable. We ended up leaving the building, “Turned over to guard dog”.

While working night shift patrol I got a call on a residential alarm at the back of a subdivision. Another two man unit checked by and we noticed the tall fence with a sign, “Beware of Dog” as we carefully looked for signs of forced entry. We scanned the back yard with our flashlights but couldn’t see any dogs as we continued looking the house over for signs of entry. The two younger officers walked around the other side of the back yard while I took the side nearest the garage.

I stopped long enough to recognize a large rectangular “doggie door”. I saw something move in the darkness of the opening, a dog’s head about the size of a basketball. It was a Rottweiler trying to figure out who was in his back yard. He wasn’t sure if we were good guys or the bad guys, at least there was a puzzled look on his face, his head taking up most of the doggie door as he peered out at us.

“Big dog.”, I exclaimed in a carefully measured announcement to the officers who had already put themselves in a corner on the wrong side of the yard. I noticed their flashlights as they found the target I’d highlighted on the back of the garage. We all walked to the gate and exited without the dog ever leaving the safe confines of the garage.

The last dog story I’ll share happened on night shift in front of a nightclub that had caught on fire ( set on fire to collect on insurance as it later turned out ). Several police cars arrived before the fire department because it went out as an alarm. When the fire trucks needed to get closer we all moved our cars out of the way; all except the K-9 unit officer who was on the far side of the building.

One of the rookies noticed the keys were in the ignition switch and volunteered to move the car across the street. We all watched in amazement as he opened the door, cranked it up and completed the self imposed assignment; never once noticing the huge police dog in the back seat. The dog must have been as surprised as we were; he never growled or snapped those very efficient jaws. God must watch out for locksmiths, cops and especially for rookies..

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