Monday, October 4, 2010
by Story Fischer (from Buzz Off)
I remember the first time I met Ben. I’d been mauled by a dog as a kid and still have the scars to prove it. Along with a healthy fear of canines. So I wasn’t too happy when K-9 cop (and past flame) Hunter Wallace introduced us.
“What is it? A German Shepherd?” I had asked, pointing to the dog. Not that I knew anything about dog breeds—as far as I’m concerned, they just come in big or small versions.
“Ben is not an it. He’s a Belgian Malinois.” The dog looked up at Hunter when he heard his name. “His markings are similar to a German Shepherd’s, but Ben would be offended by the comparison. He’s faster, more driven to please. Ben has tackled shooters on command. Once he pulled an armed robber right out of a vehicle window to prevent him from escaping. Ben’s a very bad good guy.”
The dog looked bad. Despite his reserved calm, I sensed he was alert to the possibility of danger and looking forward to the opportunity to wield steel-jawed force.
“Ben knows all the basic obedience commands,” Hunter continued. “Sit, down, come, stay, heel. He responds to my orders one way, and to commands from others a little bit differently. He’s been trained to attack and to back off when I tell him to, but only if I give the command. That part of his job is between him and me. We’re partners.”
“You trust him?”
“Completely. He keys in on aggressive behavior and can read body language better than any human I know.”
“He’s creepy,” I said. “Like he knows what I’m thinking.”
Ben the dog didn’t move a single muscle, waiting.
“Try giving him another command. Tell him to come.”
He came to my side and stood at attention.
“Nice dog,” I said, impressed in spite of myself.
“Ben has been trained to remain focused even during distractions,” Hunter said. “Crowds don’t faze him, neither do other dogs. He’s a working dog and takes his job seriously. He would never attack unless he was called to assist me in a dangerous situation.”
I gave the two tough cops an appraising eye.
And a little later in time, Ben proved he had what it took. So did Hunter. But you’ll have to read my book to find out the rest.