Melissa Walsh

Work like a dog

Grosse Pointe News | January 18th, 2018 | Grosse Pointe News - Jan. 18, 2018 - I Say column

Gpn i say   work like a dog

Work like a dog By Melissa Walsh

I ran into Duke the police dog at the Dirty Dog last week and congratulated him on his latest arrest.

Graciously, Duke let me get a picture with him. His handler, Officer Tim Harris, suggested I follow him on Instagram. I did.

I’m not one to get giddy around celebrity, but Duke is special.

For his service, Duke is frequently covered in the Grosse Pointe News and other local newspapers. The camera always captures Duke smiling. He clearly loves his job.

Duke’s job: public safety specialist.

A German shepherd finds joy in a job. I know this from personal experience.

I adopted a German shepherd-mix — Paczek — on Paczki Day — while living in Hamtramck in 1996, a year before my first son was born. Paczek bonded with first-born right away, then with my twin sons, born in 1998 — the year we moved to Grosse Pointe — and with my youngest son, born in 2003.0

Paczek was a valuable, beloved member of our family until he died of a stroke in 2009. For me, he was a walking and work-out buddy and cuddler. He was my parenting helper and home alarm system.

Pazcek had a knack for looking after my babies. He’d go into razor-back mode when strangers came near them until I said, “Okay.” And he kept close watch over them as they played — cleaning their faces as needed.

Paczek’s job: nanny.

Griffin came to us six weeks after Paczek died. The 110-pound German shepherd and six-year-old retired leader dog immediately found purpose in my pack boys — a perfect career change into wrestling, playing ball, pulling skateboards and scooters, jumping into the backyard football game or snowball fight, chasing things and getting muddy with boys.

Coincidentally, Griffin was born on the same day as my youngest son, Marc. So the pair were my second set of twins. This twin connection led to Marc’s ability to translate Griffin’s Scooby Doo-like utterances. When speaking with his family, Griffin talked, attempting to enunciate human words. He only barked at strangers.

“What did Griffin say?” I’d ask Marc.

“He said, ‘Can I have a treat?’” Marc might reply with certainty.