by John Delach
Author’s note: Between 2011 when I published my last book, “The Big Orange Dog and Other Stories,” and October 13, 2016, when “On the Outside Looking In,” first appeared, I wrote several pieces that never saw the light of day. I would like to share a number of these with you, drear reader in the coming months updated and edited as needed. This is the first.
Before the internet ruined news in print, The New York Times could rightly proclaim being “The Paper of Record” that carried: All the News That’s Fit to Print.
I was a connoisseur of the Saturday Edition, the slimmest of all their daily newspapers. Not only easy to navigate, but Saturday’s paper tended to be the Gray Lady’s back water; a venue for the odd or offbeat story deemed not significant enough for weekdays or (God forbid) The Sunday New York Times.
Saturday mornings were glorious. Sitting at the kitchen table, hot coffee at the ready, I scanned the paper with an eagle eyes searching for eddies hiding the curious or obscure. One morning in December of 2009, my quest was rewarded when I spotted a story under the category, “Religious Journal” that appeared haphazardly; a gem authored by Eric J. Stern.
I first thought Mr. Stern’s piece concerned the circumstances that led to the only three rabbis residing in Montana to participate in the 2008 annual lighting of the menorah in the state capitol building in Helena.
But the clever Mr. Stern hinted that there was more to the story when he dropped a seemingly minor aside when he noted that a police officer with a bomb sniffing German Shepard was on duty during the service.
Officer John Frosket, the K-9 handler, lingered after the service concluded so he could have a word with one of the rabbis. Stern implied that the officer may have been overly cautious because of the rarity of such an “exotic visitor.” (The rabbi, not the K9.)
Ah, this suggestion was just a dead end in Stern’s shaggy dog story that he stretched for several additional paragraphs before finally revealing the true nature of his piece until he finally explained who Officer Frosket was and that his K-9 was named Miky (pronounced Mikey.)
The Helena police force had a limited budget when they decided to acquire a bomb sniffing guard dog. “Rather than spend the standard $20,000 on a bomb dog, the Helena Police Department shopped around and discovered that they could import a surplus bomb dog from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight from Israel to Helena.”
Miky arrived in good order, but with one little problem, he only understood commands spoken in Hebrew!
Officer Frosket received his new dog and a list of Hebrew commands that he neither understood nor could pronounce. He was confronted by the need to say commands like:” stay” (hi’ sha’ er), “search” (ch’press), or even “good doggy” (kelev tov).
Try as he might, Frosket couldn’t break through to Miky so he had turned to Rabbi, Chaim Bruk in desperation after the lighting was completed.
Picture Rabbi Bruk and Miky listening to Officer Frosket explain his dilemma and frustration and replying in unison: “AH HA!
Rabbi Bruk came through. He worked with Frosket and Miky going so far as to help the officer to make the “haah” or ch sound. Through his efforts, Frosket was able to break the language code so he could communicate with his dog.
As for Miky “(He) has become a new star on the police force.”