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Legion donates $350 to police dog fund
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Making the presentation of $350 is John Aguilar, commander of the Manteca McFall-Grisham Post. With him is adjutant Art Smith and finance officer Rod McCleary at left. Top left is canine officer Will Mueller sitting in the bed of the truck next to Canine Sgt. Chris Mraz. - photo by GLENN KAHL
The Manteca Police Department’s loss of one of their canines recently touched the heart of McFall-Grisham Post of the American Legion member Art Smith who served in Vietnam with his own canine partner.

Art Smith, adjutant of the Manteca post, joined two other legionnaires who met with Manteca canine officers – and the four-legged “Bear” –to present a check for $350 to the Manteca Police Canine Association to aid to help in putting a soon-to-be purchased dog on the street.

Post Commander John Aguilar said of the check, he only hoped it could have been for a greater amount.

The new canine will replace Officer Randy Chiek’s dog “Coal” that suffered from a flipped stomach in January and died from the resulting constriction.

Chiek’s assignment as a canine handler had neared its three-year limit with the death of his partner and patrolman Victor Vincent is expected to go on the streets with a new dog.   He would have had to purchase the trained animal without the businesses, service clubs and members of the community coming forward to help pay the costs.

Smith said he had been very close to his canine in Vietnam – an association of trust, protection and compassion.

Smith penned out what he thought his dog “Duke” would have said if he had been totally human and able to talk to him verbally:

“My eyes are your eyes to watch and to protect you.

“My ears are your ears to hear and detect the evil minds in the dark.

“My nose is your nose to scent the invaders to our domain.

“And, so you may live, my life is also yours.”

Smith and “Duke” worked from Nha Trang to the Laotian border.  And when their assignment was over in that war torn country, the hardest pill to swallow was that the military policy did not allow the faithful partner to live out its life and return home with his soldier.  

Manteca police officers find a similar protection and bonding with their police officers.  The difference is they are taught to have fun in their protective training so they can go home with the officers at night and be a part of the family and even roll around and play catch with a policeman’s children.