Dusty

 
 

by David Earl Thomason

 

Dusty the Service Dog ~ the beginning

 

 

 

His name was Dusty and there was a reason for that...After living the first part of his life on a farm with dirt and chickens and pigs and cows and more dirt, you can guess whom he liked to roll around with best.

 

    Dusty...poor Dusty...in the prime of his life, living on a farm where life 'was' perfect.

    That morning that he didn't get his usual yum-yum breakfast treat still rattled around in his dog brain, that was a really confusing day...all those people...some crying...his owner that would not wake up...the men that carried him away...the lady that took his favorite leash and took him out to her car where got put in the back seat first time in his life and then driven for hours...

 

    Dusty had hardly slept at all, not because he was not tired, it was because of all the noise, and cars, and more cars, and people, and more cars, and horns, and more cars...

 

    Dusty, once a solid and strong dog; now "feared for his life"...

 

    The car soon stopped; the engine was turned off and things got really quiet. Dusty looked out the window at a building with a sign that he could not read even though it said only… 

"The Doghouse"...There was a fence and some green tennis ball flowers growing throughout the yard.

 

    A loud bark interrupted his mental survey and a huge head appeared at his window. No wonder it was so loud, it was right outside the window and it was huge.

 

    "EDDY" echoed within the car as the man that had called out "EDDY" approached the window and somehow knew his name..."hi Dusty…ya ready?” the soothing voice offered…”here we go, service dog 101 starts now”…the leash got clipped on and he found himself propelling out of the car with a strange feeling of exhilaration coming straight down the leash being held by the guy that was being called ‘Dave’ by the lady that had driven the car all night long.

 

    When Dave finished kissing her Dusty accompanied Dave and they met the rest of the working dogs at the gate…After everybody got done sniffing Dave started preparing something that Dusty would soon learn was called dinner…Dusty knew what this was and he was good at it…He loved to eat !-)

 

 

The Day Starts

 

 

 

Dave had just sipped the last of his coffee and looked around. His television was turned on but muted yet the sounds of silence and dog breathing hung in the air almost visible.

 

    He had tons of stuff to do that day but for right now he was bathing in perfection. His personal working service dogs, six of them, lay scattered about the room, some on the floor resting their heads on his feet and the others occupying different pieces of comfortable furniture. Soon he would start to move and the quiet peacefulness would be interrupted, until, the next time the comfort zone attacked...

 

    Dave glanced at the schedule on the wall and saw the he had one new fellow, one new dog and two new veterans without a dog for this day...It was going to be a busy day for sure and in addition to that he was to do an instructional class for his radio control airplane club that evening...This was going to be one of those long but satisfying days and all of his dogs would be busy also...

 

    Bedtime beckoned from the end of the day and Dave waved back...the day had started...

 

    The knock at the door sounded like miniature explosions and six dogs awoke at the same time announcing louder than the knock, the knock...The day had definitely started...

 

 

Veterans Disembark

 

     As the veterans stepped off of the plane silence prevailed...Dusty and several of the others from the doghouse stood wearing their red, white and blue service dog capes smartly decorated with the unit and squadron...

 

    All of the dogs sat at attention and watched the young men and women disembark from the transport plane. The sizes, shapes and colors of the soldier’s auras transfixed Dusty and the others. Dusty and the others were both nervous and excited. Today one of these people would become theirs... their very own person to take care of and bring perfection back into the fractured life.

 

    Eddy and Charlie stood with Dave and proudly watched the trainees’ size up the returning veterans. Knowing what they had gone thru and knowing what they will go thru tossed a new prospective on life.

 

    The soldiers lined up and were put at a loose at-ease. Dusty and the rest of the dogs were released to approach and meet the soldiers. Dusty looked left and right and slowly walked past a group that were standing at a smart at-ease and maintaining a silence that would have made nothing seem loud...Dusty walked back and forth, stopping occasionally to do some sniffing, he did not know what he was looking for and just sat down.

 

    He had not noticed he sat down next to a fellow that had a bright red and gold aura, Dusty didn't care he just felt comfortable.

 

 

Dusty had by chance picked Frank, the one with the red and gold aura as his new life partner, they both had a lot to learn and learning was what this day was for...Frank had been told and knew but Dusty was still in the dark about the whole life partner service dog thing.

 

    Little did Dusty know he would never be one of Dave's pack again, he would know him and see him but Frank was the center of Dusty's life now...Dusty needed to remember what he had learned from Dave, Eddy and Charlie...

 

    Frank picked up Dusty's leash and said in a halting and nervous voice, "Hi Dusty"...Dusty's brain recalled his training with Charlie...the word hi was the clue...now was the time to sit up and look as pretty as the moon on a starlit night, look Frank right smack in the eye and wag his tail every so gently, as he did tears started streaming down Franks face and the bond was formed; Franks life had just changed.

 

    Frank had been to the front lines twice and had killed 48 people, he knew because that is how many self inflicted razor scar cut marks he wore on his arm so he would never forget, yet he needed to forget...

 

    He needed to forget his best friend that he saw blown into small pieces right next to him and the mouth on the severed head that was still able to scream...There were lots of things to forget...and...Dusty knew not what he had in store for him...

 

 

 

The Store

 

 

    "First things first"...said Dave upon entering the room with a hand full of colorful service dog capes, Dusty was going to get his own and he was starting to get excited.

 

 

"Did you tell Dusty about the grocery store" sputtered Noble; the tennis ball finally falling from his mouth yet caught even before hitting the floor.

 

    "Not yet"... Eddy said; patiently waiting for Noble to calm a bit and stop chomping on the tennis ball before continuing the introduction of service dogs to Dusty.

  

    You are starting on the most important thing in the entire universe, you are in training to become a service dog for your own human, a war hero, a person that gave for their country and is afflicted with varying cases of PTSD and it will be your job to go everywhere your human goes and be perfect all the time, its not hard, you are a dog aren't ya.

 

    "TELL HIM ABOUT THE STORE"!!!

Noble was sputtering loudly through his tennis ball.

 

    "Ok..ok..." Yes Dusty, you too will go in the grocery store, but, there are rules and you will learn them when it is time...

 

 

 

 

 

Eddy

 

 

"Pssst"... There it was again. Dusty had never heard such a sound; all of the other dogs in the room apparently heard it also and they were all looking at Dave.

 

    Dave slowly reached into his right front pocket and as Dusty was watching all of the other dogs were seemly transfixed on Dave's right hand that was slowly going towards his right front pocket...Dusty sat as did the rest of the pack and watched with casual curiosity as Dave withdrew his hand holding something called "hotdogchips"...

 

    The chips started flying all around the room being thrown by Dave and the pack was peacefully chomping down on the flying HDC's...

 

    Suddenly Dusty's vision was severely affected by an incoming chip...Reflex and reflex alone opened and closed his mouth; the delicious taste lingered on his tongue as his teeth pulverized chip after chip as his newfound catching skills became more and more apparent. He liked this but he still yearned for "home."

 

    Dusty looked around during a pause in time and saw that his "pack" was about half a dozen other dogs of varying makes and models.

 

    The Alfa of the pack seemed to be the one that went by the name of Eddy. Big and black and did I say big? Cool, calm but most defiantly Alfa material. The flying HDC's were just disappearing into his black hole of a mouth and they were seemingly inhaled, as no swallow was noticeable.

 

 

 

"WHOA!!!"... "What's that!"  Dusty questioned Eddy who was also staring at the same person in the alcohol isle...

 

    "What you are seeing is a human aura, some of us dogs can see them." There are many types, shapes and colors of auras; some are very good and some are very bad...Your job is to notice all of them and pay attention to your own humans aura when you are assigned your own veteran"... "Yes Dusty, you will be assigned to a war veteran"...These are people that have sacrificed for our country and they have survived but are affected for the rest of their lives by memories that drive some of them to spousal abuse and even suicide.  You will be responsible for the life and safety of a hero.

 

    Dusty felt proud to be next to two very smart service dogs. Eddy and Charlie were professionals and they were his gift.

 

 

   

 

 


 

The line in the store went all the way back to the bread isle, Frank nervously glanced at the throngs of people hurrying this way and that...A screaming child made him flinch...

 

    Dusty, who was standing next to Frank ready for anything, noticed Franks aura had changed from the standard red and gold to a pinkish/blackish hue...Dusty did not understand what it meant but the bottom line was that this was different...

 

    Frank started to shake and tremble, he looked all around for an escape, he was surrounded...people walking, people talking and people pointing... he felt trapped...flashbacks of the enemy, his capture, the torture, all the people, all the noise and it was happening again...

 

    Dusty, sensing and mentally seeing the situation, stood with his paws on Franks chest and took the biggest sloberish tongue swipe right up Franks face leaving spots of saliva in Franks goatee...

 

    Frank started to laugh at that treatment and his mind fell back into the desired default setting...Life was once again great and Dusty had his first solo save and an extra steak found its way into the shopping cart.

 

 

 

Larry

 

 

 

Larry was finally a free man again...Years ago he had joined the Marines to help save the country from the terrorists that had been attacking the homeland. That was unacceptable so off he went to do his duty and he did it very well...He personally had killed hundreds of the enemy and some innocent women and children that the terrorists hid behind while shooting real life ending bullets at him and his comrades...

 

    Some of the bullets struck home and he saw a lot of his friends killed suddenly with a bullet to the head. Once he was talking to one of his best friends in a foxhole about the fantastic fishing hole back in the hometown of middleofnowhere Wyoming...

 

    Just as his friend was saying, "take highway 43, turn left on...His head exploded splattering Larry's friends brains all over his face and at the same time screams were heard from the foxhole next to him...

 

The war was over for Larry's friend but there were two other buddies that needed to be carried about a mile to the pickup zone.

 

With a man over each shoulder and trudging thru some of the thickest and thorniest brambles know to man he finally arrived at the waiting helicopter with medics...

 

    The medics got to work immediately and patched the holes that were leaking life. "Well Larry" said the attending medic, "these guys would have not lived had you not done what you did"...Larry grunted acknowledgment and headed back to his squad, he still had work to do...

 

 


 

 

Frank and George were sitting quietly while Rusty and I sat close by in a semi snooze.  Frank had said that he had not heard from Larry and he did not answer the phone.  George had the same experience, figuring he had "tied one on" whatever that meant but we figured it was not good.  George and Frank decided to go and check on Larry.  They dressed us in our capes and got the leashes out and we proudly walked out to the street.  After awhile we arrived at Larry’s.  We walked up the rickety stairs and I told Rusty; “this is not good.”  I have felt and seen the black cloud before when I first met your George.  Something was wrong.  We stood knocking at the door but no answer.... I started barking and Frank finally kicked the locked door open.  There on the floor was Larry's lifeless body still holding an empty bottle of pills.  Frank and George bent down and touched Larry, he was not moving, George called someone on the phone then our masters sat by Larry on the floor with tears streaming down their cheeks.  Soon some others came picked up the body and carried it away.  Larry was dead...he had taken his own life.... the struggle was too much for him.... did he not understand we could have helped.... we liked Larry....he was so young and so talented.  Rusty and I just sat by our masters.

 

 

 

 

     A few days later we were at a place where there were lots of crosses  in placed in rows.  We got to one cross where there was an empty hole.  A few others were there, some of Larry's drinking buddies and an older lady who wept silent tears.

 

then came the sound of gunfire...21 times we heard it.  George and Frank stood at attention then the flag draped casket passed by...as they saluted we heard a quiet "sup" and Dusty and I sat up to honor our masters fallen friend.  The flag was removed and folded then given to the older women, perhaps his mother, As the casket was lowered into the ground we could hear the sounds of a bugle playing a hunting melody that floated through the air.  Good-by Larry.... Why??

 

 

 

Life goes on...for some

     

USA Dogs

 

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