The Day I Drove a Patrol Car

Hands-Down Coolest Dog Rescue Ever

by Danielle Hanna

The story you are about to read is true. The name of the dog was changed to protect the innocent.

Sheriff's patrol car

This is not the patrol car in the article–but it’s a fair representation of its cool awesomeness.

Saturday morning was scheduled to be pretty boring. Clean up around the house and pick up groceries–provided I could maneuver the winter roads. But first I took Molly out to do her business–and that’s when my schedule went to the dogs.

As soon as I opened the front door, Molly bolted. Half a second too late, I saw two black labs on the street. Molly rushed to meet them, friend or foe. I ran after her–but it was okay. In a moment, all three were playing together as if they were old buddies.

I looked around. “Where’s your human?” I asked one of the labs.

Dunno, she said, and slammed Molly to the ground.

The lab was wearing a collar. I managed to get ahold of her–and managed to get dragged through the snow–and managed to confirm that she was wearing a city license tag. No phone number I could call, no address I could walk up to–but thanks to the ID number on the tag, her owner’s info would be on file with the city.

I tried to catch the other lab, too, but he was a smart old hound. He saw something fishy about me hanging on to his pal and trotted off down the street. I couldn’t hold on to both Molly and the lab I had in hand and expect to catch a third dog … so I counted my gains and called the county sheriff. The sheriff’s office promised to send a deputy my way.

I’ve been both a volunteer and an employee at the humane society back in my home town, so I’m pretty familiar with how to find a stray’s owner, when possible. If the dog has no tags, you call the police. They take the dog to the city pound, they check for any missing dog reports that match, and failing that they wait for the owner to come claim their dog. Failing that, the dog goes up for adoption. Failing that, either the dog goes on to a rescue like the humane society or … well.

But this lab had a tag. Simple matter of looking up her info. She’d be home in a matter of minutes.

Or so I thought. Found out I was in for a small-town adjustment shock.

Enter … the Patrol Car

The officer that responded was tall, heavy-set, middle-aged–but wearing the kind of scar you’d expect to find in a thriller. You know, the kind that starts at one cheek, cuts across the mouth, and ends at the chin. Unexpected element of Alfred Hitchcock.

I explained what was up.

“Well, here’s the problem,” said the deputy. “I can’t get at the records because the city offices are closed until Monday.”

Okay, that was not what I expected to hear. So the poor kid was going to have to spend the weekend at the pound?

“And I can’t take her to the kennel, because I’ve already got a dog in my car.”

I noticed the decal that said “K9 UNIT.” This was also not what I expected to hear.

“But if you want to follow in your car, I can show you where the kennel is.”

Still not what I expected to hear.

But I could deal with it. After working with hundreds of stray animals, I feel a certain responsibility toward any stray I run across. So frankly I have a hard time handing one over to the authorities and never seeing it again. I’d feel much better seeing where this young pup had gone and that she was well-cared for.

Heck, it sounded like more fun than house cleaning and picking up groceries.

“I hate leaving her at the kennel,” the deputy said, shaking his head.

I was pretty sure she’d feel awfully confused in a noisy shelter, but I was okay with it. The shelter where I worked wasn’t fancy by anybody’s standards, but the animals were loved and cared for and, in fact, spoiled rotten. There were worse places than a kennel to spend a weekend. And even if the shelter in this town was a little sub par, as I figured it might be in a small town, I could drop by to visit her until she went home on Monday.

It Wasn’t the Ritz …

I put the lab in the back seat of my car, but somehow she ended up in the front seat, and then on my lap. Not the easiest way to drive, but the deputy never pulled me over, so it was all good.

He led me to the edge of town and parked in front of a machine shed with a small storage unit off to the side.

Something was missing. I didn’t hear any dogs barking. I glanced through the open door of the machine shed. Couple of trucks parked inside. I glanced at the little storage unit.


Someone walked out of the machine shed and waved at the deputy. “Hey, Sam. Got yourself a new lab?”

“Nah, Turk, she’s a stray.”

“Well, you know who has black labs? Don does. He’s got four of them. You know who I’m talking about, right?”

“Drives a blue SUV?”

“That’s him.”

“I didn’t know he had labs.”

Okay, also not what I expected to hear. Between Sam and Turk, it sounded like they knew everybody in town–and what they drove, and what kind of pets they had.

Sam explained about the city license tag.

“Well, I can run over and look up her number,” said Turk. “It’d be no problem at all.”

That was a stroke of luck. Whoever this Turk person was, he had a key to the city office. But for the moment, the black lab–“Fred,” Turk christened her–was going to have to stay in the kennel–or rather, the storage shed.

Only, the door was locked.

“I don’t remember when’s the last time we used this,” Sam said.

“Been years,” Turk agreed.

They broke in the door.

Chain link fencing divided the storage unit into two kennels. The cement floor was layered with dust, as was the bed–a wooden pallet covered in carpet. Two plastic dishes sat in the corner, one with frozen water, the other with soaked-then-frozen dog food and a dead beetle.

Turk found a space heater and fired it up. At least Fred would have that.

I walked her into the kennel and sat down with her. “It’ll be okay. You won’t be here long. I’ll come visit you. I’ll clean this place up a bit, and take you for a walk. And I’ll bring you some of Molly’s dinner. She’s having roast chicken tonight.”

Fred didn’t look too keen on me leaving. But I had grand visions of how much more comfortable I could make this place for her. I had learned how to make much of little while working at the humane society.

Okay, This Is Where I Drive the Patrol Car

Turk left immediately for the city office, and Sam got in his car to follow him. I was letting my cab warm up a bit when I heard the roar of spinning wheels. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the patrol car’s tires spitting snow–and not moving an inch.

I debated for a moment. Would it look totally lame if I was to throw my 110 pounds against the back of the fancy lights-and-gadgets patrol car?

After a minute of the fancy lights-and-gadgets patrol car getting nowhere, I decided image didn’t matter. I got out and put my shoulder to the bumper.

We tried forwards and back for about five minutes with no results. (Other than me getting pelted with snow.) Sam finally put it in park, swung the door open, and got out. He circled his car, shook his head over the state of his snow tires, then stood thinking a minute. Finally he motioned toward the driver’s seat.

“Why don’t you get in?”

I stared in awe at the open door. Had Sam really just told me to drive his patrol car? I pumped both my fists. “Score!”

I jumped in behind the wheel. Gizmos. Gadgets. I didn’t even know what they all did. I couldn’t even find the gear shift, I was so pumped over what I was doing. Lots of writers try to get a ride-along at some point in their careers–but I was driving the thing!

Suddenly a furry, reddish-gold face appeared out of the back seat. Oh yeah. Police dog. Should I be concerned? But Sam’s dog merely sniffed me and smiled before disappearing into the back seat again. Sam told me later he was a sniffing dog. Red Labrador–which I’d never heard of before. (Sam confessed he hadn’t, either.)

Okay, this was it. I put the cop car in gear and gunned it. The speedometer hit 40.

The car moved about six inches.

Sam told me later I looked really small inside his patrol car. Thanks.

But our new strategy worked better–me driving, Sam pushing. When we had the patrol car in a good position, Sam took the wheel again, and with a final blitz of powder, he skidded out of the parking lot.

“That,” I thought as I watched him drive away, “is going to make a killer blog post.”

The Fate of Fred

Sam called me later. Turk had gotten Fred’s information and contacted the owner, who came and picked her up.

“She’s just ten months old,” Sam said. “The owner said the older dog knew how to get home, but he was worried about the younger one.”

I was so glad to hear they were both home safe.

“Oh,” said Sam. “And thanks for helping me get my car out of the snow.”

Hey, any time.

6 thoughts on “The Day I Drove a Patrol Car

  1. Pingback: Write What You Know

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