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I'll start with my story about Deke the belgian malinoise. Deke was actually my dad's police partner. He was trained as a bite and drug dog, but was so sweet and friendly we kept him inside. He could even be trusted around my 5 year old baby brother, who'd yank the crap out of his ears with no reciprocation from Deke. He was a fierce commrade in action, but the best family pet you could ask for at home.
Deke was sadly taken from my dad when budget cuts "forced" the police dept. to sell Deke to another dept. My dad would have done anything to keep him, he was so distraught when Deke was taken. He couldn't afford to buy him from the dept. because Deke was a pretty expensive dog (somewhere in the $6000 range) and we were all quite heartbroken.
Six years later, my dad got a call from the officer who got Deke. He said that Deke was getting very old, and it was time for him to retire. Around here, when police dogs "retire" they get put to sleep because it is believed a suitable home cannot be found for them because of their training. Of course dad jumped on the opportunity and picked Deke up the same day.
He was a really sad sight at first. He smelled beyond belief, had a terrible flea and tick infestation, and he was as skinny as a rail, but he was so happy to be back with us.
Later that night, he urinated blood. We found out that he had heartworms. The vet told my dad the chances of an old, frail dog like Deke surviving the treatment was slim to none (this was back when they still used arsenic). Dad had to try though--he hadn't just gotten his partner back to lose him again.
Deke did survive the treatment. In fact, he lived another year before passing away in his sleep at the age of 16. He died in front of my parents bedroom door. He always slept there because he was blind and deaf, and the only way he'd know if an intruder came in is if they hit him with the door trying to get in. My dad buried him under his bedroom window, so he could forever sleep close to his best friend.
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