We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming here at Unexamined Dog to pay tribute to an individual who continues to knock my socks off on an increasingly regular basis. I try to avoid mixing too much of the personal into my writing (other than my dogs of course, and how much wine and beer I drink), and very rarely do I directly discuss family in the public sphere. But sometimes, you just have to breach that public-private divide when the occasion calls for it.
My younger brother, Jimmy, is my hero. I’ve spent the last few weeks having some fun with Peaches’ Facebook page and her identity as a goofy therapy dog who gives hugs, but it’s always tempered a bit when I think about the more profound yin and yang that is my brother and I. Four years ago, Jimmy graduated from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Academy as the Academy Class Captain, the Class-Elected Speaker, winner of the Top Recruit award, and winner of the Outstanding Candidate-Personal Traits award. Over the course of my entire life, I haven’t accomplished as much as he did in that one day.
And yet, it doesn’t stop there. Jimmy and I work in completely different corners of the world, and yet share a remarkable commonality–we both work with dogs. Jimmy has been part of the Narcotics Detection & Tracking Division of the Ventura County Sheriff’s K9 Unit for the last two years. He applied for and was awarded the position at a time in his career when most others are unable to attain such a coveted special assignment given his novice status. And he’s spent his time since then training and working with his ridiculously adorable, and absurdly talented partner, Ghera, who has her own badge and even gets formal performance reviews by the department, just like Jimmy and his fellow deputies do . . . although theirs rarely end with doggy biscuits being doled out.
If those last four years weren’t enough, Deputy “Outstanding Personal Traits” Douglas also just sealed the deal on his Masters degree as of today, and apparently decided to celebrate it by trying out for the S.W.A.T. division last week, even though he’s not in a position to be selected given his rookie status and his current K-9 assignment. Well, big surprise, he scored first place in the physical fitness test component and second in marksmanship. Yep, that’s my bro. It took every ounce of energy I had in me just to crank out a measly four mile run this morning and I couldn’t hit a target with a gun, a cannonball, or a self-guided missile, if my life depended on it.
My brother and I inhabit two very different worlds–certainly when it comes to the predominant belief systems regarding dog handling and training that surround us, but more importantly when it comes to the lives that do or don’t literally depend on us performing to the best of our abilities–me obviously being the latter case. And yet I can’t help but think that us living on opposite ends of the professional spectrum, literally, has somehow linked us symbolically, as we both do what we do with our dogs in an effort to productively and positively shape the world in which we live. Although, no matter what I do over the course of the next several months, or years, with our little Therapy Peach, I’m pretty sure I’m never making S.W.A.T. . . . it just ain’t in the cards. Although I’m thinking Peaches would give Jimmy quite a run for his money on that Physical Fitness Test.
Bravo, Deputy Douglas, in your unintentional quest to blow me away. Now go give Ghera a treat and some Wubba time.