The following passage written by a mutual friend pays homage to Apache, a wonderful dog I had the pleasure of working with on a couple of searches. There is never a good time for such a passing. Humankind is drawn from our very primal core to "man's best friend"? only to find that their days are much too short when measured in human lifetimes. Those who are fortunate enough to live life with these beautiful creatures spend a lifetime reconciling how such magnificence can come and go so quickly. All the thought one can muster, however, cannot erase the pain of their departure nor will it diminish the glow of the memories.
December 29, 1993--March 11, 2006
Apache has crossed that rainbow bridge to join the other search dogs and searchers whom have gone before him. He has other dog friends to chase ball or stick with and someone there to throw them for him. He is now free of the ailments of old age that brought him down rapidly the past few months. Unfortunately, it is probable that his illness was accelerated by things he was exposed to while doing his work as a search dog.
Apache was Cheryl's second search dog. After working with a hard headed dog the first time through (Duke, this is written with affection), working with Apache was a dream. He was easy to read, eager to work, and quite a ham. He was hard headed for a golden retriever--probably one of the reasons Cheryl decided to take him on in the first place as she preferred hardheaded breeds. Apache and Cheryl developed a very special bond and he could â€œcommunicateâ€? with Cheryl with the expression in his eyes. The helicopter tail was another means of communication. The faster it whirled, the closer he was getting to the scent source. He had a specific behavior if the subject was deceased, and he disliked scenes where there had been a lot of adrenaline.
Doing water work with Apache was sometimes a bit unnerving. He had a habit of diving under water whenever the scent was strong. It sometimes seemed possible that he might surface with the subject in tow.
Apache was obsessive and played stick with anyone who would take the time to throw one for him. He repeatedly dropped it at their feet until they got the â€œhint.â€? He was not beneath picking up earthworms if no stick was close at hand. It was a little harder to convince people to throw the worms, but you had to love the resourcefulness.
Apache did a lot of things while he was a search dog. He spent a lot of time doing PSARs with children. Throughout his nine years of fielding he had several assists, especially on water searches. He pinpointed the location of a railroad employee who had been buried beneath coal when a train derailed. His work at crime scenes helped with evidence collection. His presence was requested at seminars around the country to serve as a role model of how search dogs should behave when not in the working mode.
A few days after his departure from our world, a bald eagle flew overhead for a great length of time. As a totem in the Native American culture, Eagles are messengers from heaven. It was such a blessing for Cheryl to behold this sight. The only thing harder to do than retire your dog, is having to decide when he has suffered enough and it is time to help end the pain.
Peace to Cheryl and her family during this time of grief.