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Mission Concluded

by Gary Clifton

Sergeant Carole Kaminski, a cop for nine years, was tall, slender, and a confirmed loner, wrangling at all times to avoid working with a partner. But one night, a burglar had Kaminski down on her back and was wrestling for her pistol. A big German shepherd police dog arrived, bit several chunks off the mope and saved Kaminski’s life. The next day, Kaminski decided at that point that she liked dogs better than she liked most people and requested transfer to the canine squad.

Kaminski and her new partner met. The little Rottweiler pup in the training kennel weighed forty pounds at five months, with feet the diameter of coffee cups. Deep black, with a brown muzzle, she was playful, clumsy and full of life.

Kaminski named her Molly. They rode home to Kaminski’s place that night and, for the next six months, Molly commuted with Kaminski to and from the kennel. Kaminski mastered dog handling and Molly learned to be a cop.

Molly developed into a hundred-pound rookie, who remained playful and awkward in many ways. She learned Kaminski was the alpha dog: never to enter the door first without command, always wait for Kaminski to eat before Molly got any supper, and to bite bad guys only on Kaminski’s verbal order.

Kaminski played tennis two evenings a week. Molly lay quietly at courtside, waiting. Whether Kaminski’s serve was off or if she won, lost, or came off the court tired, happy, or disgusted mattered not a whit to Molly. A journeyman in a patient trade, Molly was unwavering in her joy when Kaminski returned to her.

Molly became a fine officer with her own fitted bulletproof vest, a silver badge embossed across the front. By graduation, the now massive animal, although still incredibly friendly to children and curious citizens, was big and willing enough, properly ordered, to take down a mountain lion.

Despite extensive training, police dogs tend to be moody and often a threat to strangers. But after five years, Molly’s record for apprehensions, as well as the sparkling affection she showed at public gatherings, earned her an excellent reputation. Any child could blunder across police lines and grope her, receiving a slobbery kiss in return.

She not only slept on the foot of Kaminski’s mattress, she traveled in the officer’s personal pickup wherever Kaminski went. If Kaminski had an occasional visitor over for the night, Molly obligingly slept on the floor. That’s what friends do.

She never spent a night in the kennel in Kaminski’s back yard. Molly never came to the pickup without her rubber-ring toy, hoping that in the day’s travel, she could find someone, hopefully a kid, to toss the trinket so she could enthusiastically retrieve it; a game she could play for hours.

On a sweltering, humid, summer night, Kaminski and Molly were dispatched to a “burglar in a building.” Dispatch ordered several units to assist. Kaminski radioed they were on the scene, then approached a jimmied-open back door with Molly on her leash.

Hearing footsteps from inside, Kaminski pulled Molly behind a dumpster and waited, pistol in hand. The suspect exited the door on the run. Kaminski leaned around the dumpster and leveled her weapon at the man. “Police! Get on the ground.”

The suspect, stoned, a semi-automatic rifle clutched in his hands, panic-squeezed the trigger. Kaminski probably never heard it. A chance first round tore off the upper right side of her head. She fell in the debris-littered alley in a pool of blood and brains.

Absent an order, Molly was trained to hold her ground. But in the strange, often misunderstood world of animals, gentle, obedient Molly knew to lunge, She downed the suspect and, in seconds, ripped out his throat. Molly had evened the score.

Responding units actually heard the gunfire and the sound of Molly attacking. Then came the epiphany in spades. Gentle Molly was now “Molly the monster-killer” standing guard over a fallen comrade. A radius of ten feet around Kaminski’s body was Molly territory. She circled, the suspect’s blood dripping from savage fangs.

A beleaguered patrolman asked: “Sarge, we gonna have to shoot her?”

The sergeant shone his flashlight. “Kaminski and the toad are both dead. Hold your fire.”

A SWAT sergeant with a tranquillizer gun arrived. One dart and Molly was down, snoring like the boisterous pup they all knew. Captains and deputy chiefs showed up and agreed to carry the unconscious dog to the kennel in Kaminski’s back yard... where she’d never been.

The next day, they’d decide whether to re-assign the dog to another officer — which had rarely been successful — or to try to give her away as a pet. Her gentle nature seemed likely to lend to being domesticated, but they’d all seen her standing deadly guard over her partner’s body. Had her mind snapped?

Two carloads of cop brass showed up at Kaminski’s the following morning. A neighbor complained Molly had howled constantly for hours before growing quiet.

“Damnation!” a lieutenant gasped.

Molly lay dead, as stiff and cold as the concrete kennel floor.

“The tranquillizer kill her?” an officer asked.

“Or that neighbor?” somebody suggested.

But no one really knew.

A photo of Molly, proud and elegant in her Kevlar police vest and badge, stood on a tripod in front of Kaminsky’s closed coffin. An enormous crowd mourned the loss of two dedicated officers.

The old K-9 captain sat near the rear, the better to hide his sorrow. A uniformed lieutenant squeezed in beside him. “Molly would have made a fine family pet,” he whispered hoarsely. “What happened?”

The captain looked over at him and said quietly: “I believe Molly decided one human partner was enough. She ended her assignment... permanently.”

Copyright © 2015 by Gary Clifton

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