We joined with a number of our neighbors for National Night Out, one of more than eighty that took place this evening around Midland. It was an enjoyable time to visit with people that we don't see that often, except perhaps as our cars pass in the streets. But it was also a time to meet some of the excellent first responders who work tirelessly to keep us safe.
Take Sid, for example. He's a seven year old Belgian Malinois
, and a four year veteran of the Midland Police Department's K-9 Unit. We got to meet Sid (albeit not up close and personal, as he was on duty and not in a socializing mode) and his partner, Officer Simpson, along with another K-9 cop, Officer Garcia. Sid was born in Belgium and received his early training there. The local officers have to learn many commands in Dutch because that's how the dogs are acclimated.
The department has shifted to this breed, away from German Shepherds, because of the latter breed's tendency to injury, especially hip problems. The Malinois are slightly smaller and lighter, and thus less injury prone (only about 1% suffer from hip dysplasia
). They still have a powerful bite (900-1000 psi), and are highly intelligent.
Debbie and I were interested to hear that all veterinary services for the police dogs are provided by Dr. Bobby Boyd (a fellow Fort Stocktonite) at the Tall City Veterinary Hospital. I asked how the dogs responded to office visits. The answer is, "not too well." For everything but routine shots, the dogs are muzzled and often sedated in order to protect the clinic personnel. (The handlers hold the dogs for their shots.)By the way, a fund has been established to help pay vet bills for retired police dogs. If you're interested in making a donation, you may do so at Dr. Boyd's clinic, which is located at 4606 W. Wall St.
We also visited with Bryce Pruitt, a firefighter who drives Midland's only ladder truck. The truck made an appearance at our gathering, much to the delight of all the kids (of all ages - there's nothing like a big honkin' fire truck to make a boy out of a man!). That ladder truck makes all of the fire calls in Midland (and, in fact, was on the job at that terrible blaze that destroyed the home under construction at GreenTree last night), so its crews stay plenty busy. The ladder truck carries no water or hoses, but has a fitting and pump that allows water to flow from external sources up the ladder to where it can be directed to where it's needed. Oh, and the truck gets about 3 miles per gallon around town, so that should make you feel a little better about your SUV.
Later in the evening, our city councilman, Jeff Sparks and his wife Val made an appearance. We were his fifth or sixth stop for the evening.
This was an enjoyable time for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the chance to thank some of the police officers and firefighters who are on the front lines. It was a privilege to meet them.
And it's a source of pride that Midland, Texas, ranks among the most active cities in the US
in participating in National Night Out. If your neighborhood isn't participating, perhaps it's simply waiting for someone to step forward. In our case, that someone was Berry Simpson. Perhaps next year, in your neighborhood, it could be you.Update: Berry has posted photos from this event to his Flickr account. Yours truly appears multiple times, but you shouldn't let that stop you from checking out the pictures.