The past few weeks were tragic for France, and for the world. After we are still left reeling from the terrorist attacks on Paris, there are more sad news for animal lovers everywhere, because not all lives lost were human.
Sadly, a Belgian Malinois police dog for RAID (France’s anti-terrorist department) named Diesel was killed in the line of duty. According to an article on NY Daily News, Diesel was the first one to go into an apartment where the suspected mastermind of the terrorist attacks was located.
Diesel died a hero’s death.
The police dog went down protecting his handler and doing what he loved to do. If you have any doubts that he loved his job and was forced to do it, you have never met a Belgian Malinois — supposedly, they only do what they want to do.
Ridiculously smart and protective of their owners and siblings, Belgian Malinois are an incredible, loyal and clever breed. If you think the police don’t care, think again. They admit to Diesel being ‘indispensable’ part of their unit and they are all affected by his death.
Let's take a second and think about it. You have a dog you train since he was a puppy, he lives with you, eats with you, goes to work with you every day, you work together to dangerous missions, and you rely on each other while simultaneously worrying about their safety. Then, on a mission, you send him in ahead of you to assess the danger of the situation, only to be shot and killed.
I can't say this with certainty, but I would assume that this is like losing a family member, and more importantly, it was your call as a handler. There is nothing that can fill that void or sorrow.
Yes, that was Diesel’s job and what he was trained to do, and maybe the officer will get another amazing dog, but as all pet parents know, each dog has their own individual personality and is always irreplaceable.
To me, that would be the hardest decision of my life and I would never forgive myself for sending him in. I cannot imagine losing a beloved dog in that way. You might tell me that police dogs aren’t considered ‘pets’, that the entire purpose of a police dog is to only do his job and officers don’t get attached, or if they do, it is their own fault. But is it?
It's likely that most of us may think that way but only because we have never trained a dog where we would develop such a strong bond with him. It is impossible to keep them out of your heart. And I know police dogs and their handlers build an even stronger connection than the average human-pet relationship.
In this case, we are talking the dog having complete trust in his handler to know he will get to the ground safely while rappelling down a twelve story building. I’ll be honest, I don’t even trust another human that much.
These dogs are also trained to parachute with their handler, use night vision cameras, sniff out bombs, and if necessary, attack people. Talk about an indescribable bond; it is hard to wrap your mind around it.
Dogs don’t speak the human language, but somehow, dogs like Diesel build an unbreakable bond where they literally put their lives in the hands of their people.
While I not only mourn for Diesel, I also feel for his handler. That is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. In time, I hope thinking of Diesel will be a nice memory, not a painful one. I hope that police dogs everywhere get the love and attention they deserve, and that their handlers have the strength to go on without them if that time ever comes. Diesel was a brave dog and served his country and his people well.