Special Cases: Loyalty beyond words

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 8, 2017

Through the years I’ve developed a special affection for all service dogs. Besides the donations I’ve made to organizations that rescue and train these magnificent animals, I’ve personally helped three retirees, two police dogs and one Army dog.

Barry, a Belgian Malinois, was rescued from a breeder up north. In 2001, he was presented to Chris LeRoy, who was working patrol for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  Chris later went back to Hendersonville taking Barry with him.

For eight years Barry and Chris walked the streets and Barry became famous for his ability to sniff out illegal drugs (his favorite pastime). Barry and Chris were such a formidable team tracking down criminals it earned Barry the front page on more than one occasion. Chris was promoted to detective and Barry retired from law enforcement, but till his last breath he will have Chris’ back.

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Chris’ wife, Melissa, is a lady who wears many hats, one of which is to help me with taxes for my nonprofit. She is also a dear friend and this tough lady always tears up with pride when speaking of Barry.

She tells how Barry loves his extra large Kong toy that was given to him when he found drugs. Today it is with him from sun up to sun down. Wherever Chris lays his head you will find Barry lying down between him and the door. At 17 years of age, Barry’s main goal in life is to protect the LeRoys, especially if he deems them vulnerable.

Each year I learn that some of my very special kids have passed on. Two I’ve lost recently are Jessie and Gizmo. When I see their owners I can’t help tearing up at their memory.

Chris and Melissa know that the time is nearing when they’ll have to say goodbye to Barry. Before that day comes I decided to share some of his life with all of you.

It is often said when someone shows extraordinary bravery, “They have the heart of a lion.” I think that would be selling Barry short, in him beats the heart of a dog.

Thanks for listening.