Monday, August 9, 2010


Throughout our lives, there are people who touch our lives in unique ways. And throughout the life of a veterinarian, there are animals who do the same. Today's blog is about a very special dog. Adrian died two weeks ago today of a ruptured tumor on the spleen. It still doesn't seem real to me as his loss was so sudden. He was 11 years old which is a good number of years for a German Shepherd Dog, but still it seems too soon.

Adrian was a police dog and the partner of Sergeant John Koski of the Ashtabula City Police Department. I feel very privileged to be able to work with these incredible dogs and with the officers who are their handlers and their partners. As a veterinarian, I understand the human-animal bond pretty well. I understand the pain of losing a trusted friend and companion. But I really think I cannot fully understand what these canine officers mean to their human counterparts. It is not just about love and companionship. It is about life and death on the job every single day. These dogs are invaluable and repeatedly save the lives of the officers they work with. It is a level of bond that I think you need to live to fully understand.

I must admit that I truly admired Adrian for very selfish reasons. Here was a working dog that was trained to be aggressive and known as one of the hardest biting dogs on the police force. But in all my years as his veterinarian, Adrian never once displayed an ounce of aggression in the clinic. Not a growl. Not a lift of the lip. Not "the look". Nothing. Some of the police dogs we work with actually become very fear aggressive in the clinic setting. Not Adrian. He was an amazingly social and well adjusted dog. I could do a physical exam on him without fear of losing any fingers or facial features. Sergeant Koski would often tell me how good Adrian was with his own kids. I know he took Adrian to schools for presentations. That is why Adrian commanded my respect. A lot of this praise should be heaped onto Sergeant Koski as well. I still remember a conversation I had with him some years back when Adrian was in his middle years of life. We were talking about training dogs and Sergeant Koski talked about how every single day he took time to run Adrian through his paces even if it was only for a few minutes. That is what it takes to have a well trained dog. All of us with house dogs that disobey commands on a daily basis should stand up and take note. We train our dogs and then forget that reinforcing that training is a daily commitment. I am as guilty as the rest of not following through. Perhaps Adrian's legacy to me is to remember him by being a better dog owner and training my dogs like they should be trained.

And to John Koski, my heart goes out to you. In your pain, think of all the lives that were touched and made better by knowing Adrian. You were a huge part of that. Thank you sir for the job that you do. I will always think of you and Adrian together and smile.

1 comment:

  1. There are so many ways our dogs touch our lives.
    They really do have unique personalities. Often peole think dogs to be somewhat shallow, I know that all of the dogs I have adopted take anywhere from six months to a year before they let their guard down and begin to show their true personalities.

    I had an ex-police dog, his name was Smoke. If we were not home and someone came by: Smoke would happily let them in the yard.
    Problem is he would not let them leave until we got home. I found meter readers, a UPS guy and a jehovas witness waiting for us when we got back.....I swear Smoke always had this sly grin......
    So many other dogs too, each with a different way about them...and each one, police dog or not, a hero to me.