A Quiet, Retiring Dog
How heart-warming when a professional dog can retire before she’s blown up. So many of us just settle for Medicare.
After an eight-year career as a bomb-detecting dog at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, Lacy, a nine-year-old Black Lab, was forced to retire by her bosses at the Transportation Security Administration. Their reasons: Lacy was having trouble jumping up on airplane seats and stretching to sniff overhead compartments.
Also callous budget cuts. For half of Lacy’s salary the TSA could hire a handful of goldfish to do her job.
Still, having screened more than a million passengers Lacy deserved to be honored with a retirement party although, technically speaking, she never found an actual bomb. To a highly-skilled professional canine, this must be a point of pride as well as a personal frustration. Like being a clock maker without tiny tools or playing for the Chicago Bears.
Often retirement parties bristle with emotional conflicts even when there’s cake. Lacy’s probably was no different. Surrounded by TSA dignitaries and curious travelers with carry-ons, Lacy worked up and down the line one last time. Maybe, just maybe today she’d catch the Big One, not just another phony training decoy.
HANDLER: “C’mon, Lacy, seek! Attagirl!”
LACY: “Wait! WAIT! I got one! There! It’s right there!”
HANDLER: “You did it! Good girl! Lacy gets a reward – her squeaky toy!”
LACY: “Forget the toy. I’m serious! This is real! It’s that guy!”
HANDLER: “Who’s a smart girl? Lacy’s a smart girl!”
LACY: “Are you crazy? Listen to me! Grab him! Grab the bastard!”
PHONY DECOY TRAINING BASTARD: “Good job, Lacy! Good girl!”
LACY: “Are..are you kidding me? This was just another set up? What’s wrong with you people?”
P.D.T. BASTARD: “Who caught me? Lacy caught me! Oh yes you did! Yes you did!”
LACY: “My heart is pounding!”
P.D.T. BASTARD: “Who gets the squeaky toy? Lacy gets the— Yikes!”
LACY: “You think this is a game? Somebody get him out of here! Get him out before I go all squeaky toy on his ass!”
TSA DIGNITARIES: (Checking their watches) “So, is there cake?”
While not as conflicted over retirement as professional service canines, aging standard-issue, general-purpose dogs like our Brisby, Nature’s Perfect Schnoodle, have questions about retirement. Such as, “Retire from what?”
I’ve only saved up a few marrow bones. Can I afford to retire to the red chair?
Yes, thanks to Henry Winkler and a Reverse Mortgage!
Seriously, Reverse Mortgages are highly suspect and Henry Winkler doesn’t like dogs. Or the elderly. However, dogs usually make it clear to their Giants just who owns the red chair. The same way Jaws made it clear that the crew’s gonna need a bigger boat.
What will I do when I retire?
What do you do now?
Uh…I protect the red chair!
OK. Probably more of that, then.
I don’t like the downsides of retirement. Like illness and death. Is there a pill for those? Oh, I also don’t like pills.
Truly, every living creature has its own very special time on Earth. For dogs, that’s dinner. So figure around 4, maybe 5 p.m. Meanwhile, don’t pay any attention to illness or death. They’re just Twitter trending topics, like #WarHuhYeahWhatIsItGoodFor and #SorryIThinkYou’reInOurSeatsSorry.
I hate that black dog with the pointy ears that walks past my house. That’s not a question about retirement. But I thought you should know.
This raises a valuable point. Retired dogs are a great solace to each other when they gather at the dog parks to play chess and complain that their daughter doesn’t call as much since she moved to Atlanta:
LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “What does that look like to you? Is that a mole? It looks darker than a mole. Should I get that looked at?
PUG: “That’s just a tick, Jerry. You shouldn’t worry.”
LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “What about over here? This one’s large and black.”
PUG: “That’s your paw, Jerry.”
SCHNOODLE: “We gonna play or we gonna kibbitz?”
MALTESE: “Ya’ know, Bernie died.”
SCHNOODLE: “Bernie? Which Bernie? Wire coat Bernie or silky coat Bernie?”
MALTESE: “Wire coat.”
SCHNOODLE: “Aww, that’s a shame. He was a Good Dog.”
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “I hear that Lacy’s retired.”
PUG: “Really? She was working…oh, long time over at the airport. Defusing mines or something.”
LACY: “Hi, fellas!”
DOGS (in unison): “Lacy!”
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “We were just talking about you. So you’re retired now? A lady of leisure! A canine of….of leisure!”
LACY: “Just like you all. Soooo…what happens now?”
(A long silence follows.)
PUG: “You play chess?”
LACY: “Can I use my squeaky toy?”
SCHNOODLE: “If we play by TSA rules, sure!”
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