June 23 2012 was a very bad day. My friend Steve, the Navy dog handler and my narcotics detection counterpart lost his partner. The vet here worked on him frantically but it was to no avail. When it happened we had to physically restrain Steve from going after the vet. It got that bad. He was livid, angry, devastated, and none of us blamed him. It was such a waste of such a good dog.
Jimo had gone in for teeth cleaning and the vet sedated him so she could take x-rays. He never came back. Most of us feel this was a terrible mistake. Jimo didn't need the x-rays. His teeth were fine. Even if he needed the x-rays or the dental exam, Steve could have just held him still. He had been through it that way before This time the vet wanted to sedate him. The vet was showing others in the exam room how to do this type of exam and it just went horribly wrong. She was also pretty shook up over the whole ordeal. We didn't see her much after that. She transferred out about a week later.
Steve and Jimo had been together over two years. He was due to rotate out to a new assignment in a couple months and as normal, Jimo would be going with him. Jimo was a beautiful Belgium Mal, and the only dog Jack ( my dog) got along with. Since we worked together everyday the dogs got used to each other and worked well together. When I heard the news that day all the personal terrors of losing my dog came back to haunt me. It seemed that I was almost as devastated as Steve was but I'm sure that is not really correct Steve was dealing with the real loss, I was only dealing with nightmares.
I felt compelled to do something so I turned to what I do. I wrote. I wrote a short poem, or something. I don't know what you would call it but I wrote it and gave it to Steve. After reading it he asked if the Chaplin could read it at the service. Of course I said I would be honored to have it read and was so glad he liked it. I think Steve knew how much I also missed his friend.
The poem has since been published in the Gonzales Cannon in a tribute to a fallen friend. The US War Dog Association has published it to their website www.chapter1.uswardogs.org . It is in the letters from the sandbox section. Scroll down to July 4 2012 to find it. I've heard from other handlers that they have read it in other places too.
Steve rotated out a week or so later. He was no longer operational without his dog. Instead of taking on a new partner, Steve decided to leave the Navy. We still stay in touch.
Here is the poem I wrote for Jimo and Steve. The picture is of them together. They were a great team.