Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rexy Johnsen 1999-2014

The Chicago Police Department lost one of its finest veterans on Thursday night. After many months of watching her condition slowly worsen, we put retired bomb sniffer Rexy to sleep a few weeks short of her 15th birthday.

Rexy had megaesophagus; basically, her throat didn't work properly. That made it difficult for her to swallow food and especially water. There isn't much that can be done other than taking great care in feeding and watering. For the last two months of her life, we gave Rexy most of her hydration through canned food and jello. We couldn't even let her outside when winter came because she would just eat snow until she regurgitated (fortunately she adapted well to using pee pads by the backdoor). As her condition deteriorated, she also began to have violent sneezing fits (caused by megaesophagus).

Aside from megaesophagus, Rexy was in decent shape for a dog her age. She was small for a labrador retriever, about 50 pounds, and she still had pretty good mobility. That made saying goodbye an especially difficult decision, but it was becoming clear she was enjoying life less and less. When she refused to eat deli slices of turkey on Thursday, we knew.

Rexy served about eight years for the CPD sniffing for bomb materials at O'Hare Airport. For some reason she didn't get along with her handler's new service dog, and that's how we ended up with her in October 2012. I had trouble relating to her at first. Perhaps due to her training, Rexy wasn't as demonstrative as a typical lab. I could only pet her for a short time before she would walk away (Moose, on the other hand, would never leave while being petted, and usually nudges me for more whenever I stop). Over the last few months, we got much closer as I took on more of her care. By the end, she often slept by my side of the bed.

Rexy was a somewhat dignified dog, but you wouldn't know it from this picture of her with a Yoplait yogurt container:

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