OK UK?: Barking Mad, A Tale About A Dog...
The English are “funny” about animals. It is very possible that in the land of the stiff upper lip, the only acceptable form of showing that one is capable of affection (or any emotion, really,) is to have a pet.
Dogs outscore cats in numbers, but in terms of sheer adoration, there is nothing to separate the species. Canine owners are as passionate about their dogs as feline owners are with regard to their cats. It is in the practical application of the companion’s traits that we see a greater difference. The following story would require a very unusual feline to have the same effect, for example.
In England, on the whole, jogging is still seen as highly suspicious (and rather American and gauche), so the only acceptable form of exercise for the over thirties is walking one’s dog. This is done in astounding numbers, both day and night, (something I witnessed in a previous life.) Once upon a Tyne (sic) I was a Police Constable, or PC in the North East of England. As a Bobby on the beat, it did not matter what shift I was on, I would meet men and women out walking their dogs. These good people were rarely nefarious and made excellent witnesses to the general naughtiness of the public, particularly those whose nocturnal activities involved the removal of other peoples’ property for personal gain.
Which led me to an interesting observation - much of the criminal population is afraid of dogs. (They may own one, but it was usually a vicious and angry mutt, chained in the back yard, for the purpose of scaring other criminals away.)
On my shift was an officer with the exceedingly useful talent of being able to bark like a very aggravated, very large dog. Unlike the criminal masterminds portrayed on TV, the majority of criminals that I came across were from the shallow end of the gene pool. Stupid was an upwardly mobile goal for most of them, and it was with this group that PC Barker (not his real name, though it would have made writing the reports truly funny!) had the greatest effect.
The concept of silent alarms had eluded one of our crimorons (criminal+moron) while he was happily helping himself to a warehouse-full of electronics. He wisely had on his loose jacket with poacher pockets and was loading up on Sony Walkmans, the hot item at that particular time.
Now, it is important to understand that, a) the warehouse was massive, and b) it was two or three a.m. and, c) neither my partner nor I were feeling unduly athletic. We responded to the silent alarm and could see through the barred windows, high up on the side of the building, that someone was using a flashlight as a, “Hi! I’m over here,” beacon. All the doors were secure, so we suspected a rooftop entry.
We sat in the patrol car and waited for the key holder to arrive. We could afford to be patient. We had parked right next to Mr. Burglar’s little van, which was sitting with doors open, ready for a quick getaway. We did take the precaution of removing the keys from the ignition, avoiding a potentially hazardous chase, and thus, secure in the knowledge that Mr. Burglar was somewhat screwed, we waited.
The key holder arrived, just a short while later, and let us into the front office. On our first look inside the warehouse, the enormity of the task that lay before us became apparent. We could search or wait. Both seemed likely to drag on past the end of our shift. We needed the dog unit.
Stepping back outside, we asked for the said unit, but the dog and his handler were already engaged in some other incident. Nonchalantly, we thus asked if PC Barker was available to assist.
Ten minutes later, Plan B was put into effect. We noisily made our way back into the warehouse, turning on lights and shouting to the Sony Walkman aficionado.
A very brave, “You’ll not get me, copper,” came from somewhere near the back.
“Don’t make us send in the dog,” was our response.
“There’s no dog,” replied our crimoron.
“He’s outside. You want us to bring him in?”
“Does he bite?” came the rather less confident query.
“Might. More likely to hump your leg, but he’ll find you for sure,” we continued.
Nine times out of ten, the threat of the dog coming in would resolve this situation, but our crimoron was made of sterner stuff. He responded in colorful Anglo Saxon and told my partner and I to have relations with each other.
It was time for PC Barker to work his magic. With encouraging, “Steady boy” and “Go get him, Fang,” comments, we set him up for his party piece. He started with a low growl and some loud sniffs, then like a cathedral pipe organ in its full glory, let rip a throaty bark that got progressively more agitated and louder.
“Is he still on the leash?” came a strangled inquiry from the nether regions of the warehouse.
“For a couple of minutes. Come on, lad, walk out towards us with your hands up,” my partner advised.
“Ok, Ok, I’m coming, just don’t let the dog off.”
And our master criminal showed himself. His pockets bulging with merchandise, and fear all over his perspiring face.
We handcuffed him, and as we were doing so, he realized that he had not seen the dog. “Where’s that dog at?” he asked, with a mixture of puzzlement and fear.
PC Barker obliged with a spectacular howl. Our collective laughter could not quite drown out the string of expletives being strung together with creative, almost poetic, abandon by our burglar.
Which has me thinking. Why have a dog, if you can bark yourself…
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