Drug Dogs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

You want to believe what a dog tells you?

I have a friend named Alex who used to complain about my driving.  Not that my driving was bad - the point was, I could run stop signs, red lights, drive with various brake- and tail-lights out, exceed the posted speed limit, what-have-you- and never get stopped by the police.  I once drove for 6 months entirely missing a headlight and never go pulled over. Alex, who is black, could barely get behind the wheel before he was being stopped.  It infuriated him, which is the correct response to institutional racism.
 
Alex told me a story once of being pulled over by cops in some state, say, Oklahoma.  The cop wanted to search his car, and Alex, quite properly, told him no.  So the cop calls in the drug dog.  The dog runs around the car.  The police officer than says that the dog has 'gestured' at the car.  The car is searched.  Nothing is found.
 
I've always found the use of drug-sniffing dogs to be a highly suspect activity.  After all, the dogs actions have to be interpreted.  Supposedly you have to have some training to interpret dog-speak.  And what's to stop you from training a dog to 'gesture' at cars on command?  Dogs are stupid.  They want to please humans.
 
At breakfast I was talking with my friend Su about the common practice of Civil Forfeiture, which allows police to seize your possessions on the suspicion that they have been used in the commission of a crime, or are the proceeds of crime.  A sensible person, who does not consider the police of the United States to be a philanthropic organization, might see the temptation to abuse this power. (See New Yorker 8/12/2013 Article 'Taken' by Sarah Stillman). 
 
What I decided was needed was a talking drug dog.  One that would turn to his handler and say "Dude, this jalopy reeks of weed.  And the driver is out of his head!  Man, look at his eyes."  This would solve a lot of problems with interpretation.  In addition, the dog could also take the oath and testify in court.
 
There are problems with this model.  The dog who speaks would eventually want a piece of the confiscated loot.  Soon he would be demanding gold collars, silver food bowls, and the choicest steaks.  He'd be wanting prize bitches, and start suing the state for being neutered.  Could he be promoted?  How many street officers would take orders from a talking dog?
 
And the dog, being part of the "Blue Code of Silence", would probably feel intense pressure to back up his fellow officers in the case of a conflict.  Could man's best friend lie on the stand?  The defense attorney might state with fervor "Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, it's my opinion that this yellow cur is lying!"  Would a talking police growl and try to bite opposing counsel?
 
When the talking dog is let go from the force for savaging a lawyer, he might turn to crime himself.  His ability to communicate with other dogs would allow him to 'case' houses without having to enter them - an invaluable skill.  Your own poodle might unwittingly mention your prize collection of Rolex watches, or your original painting of dogs playing poker.
 
It's probably better that we let evolution take its course.  If dogs start to talk some day, we can revisit the question.  In the mean-time, it's probably best if we don't take the dog's word as gospel.  We don't know his motivations.


Submitted: August 18, 2013

© Copyright 2021 Keith Welch. All rights reserved.

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