He cocked his head and looked deeper, he dropped it to the ground and started sniffing. Smith hadn't ever seen him act so strange. He must have been onto something, he stood securely in the dirt and wouldn't budge. It was an obligation to investigate what he had stumbled upon, he started splintering the tree into pieces to see further. He shook his head in disbelief at the sight before him.
When the Smith family first laid eyes on Kyle, an old boy who had just retired as a service dog, they instantly fell in love with him. The family treated him right, they would take him out to the wood where Kyle could run after the local wildlife playfully.
There Was Something Wrong
The day started like any other, they went for their normal walk in the woods but something was off about Kyle. He was being erratic, as if looking for something. The Smiths were the third family to adopt Kyle after his first two had given him up. Having an ex-police dog wasn't for everybody.
Difficulty With Aggression
Because of his years as a police dog, Kyle good at sniffing out clues but couldn't express aggression properly since he was a sweet and loving dog. But after working with his new partner, John, Kyle's aggression improved as they trained him. Soon Kyle was ready to protect his partner with his life.
The Perfect Duo
Service dogs are normally paired with more than one officer, but Kyle bonded to John and wouldn't listen to anyone else. The two shared a real bond and were on permanent duty together. John wished he could keep Kyle once he retired but unfortunately because of his long shifts, he couldn't give Kyle the attention he deserved.
When the Smiths adopted Kyle, he got along with them well. He got plenty of exercise with them and the family was happy to have him protecting them. Kyle was enjoying his time as a retired service dog until one day. The Smiths lived in a house on the countryside, this meant that Kyle had plenty of space to run around, until he found something.
Room To Roam
The family had bought the house thinking of Kyle. They needed to provide space for him to stretch his legs. Surrounding the house were plenty of green fields, woods and many more places for Kyle to explore. Thomas Smith would take Kyle on a walk every single day. But then they made a startling discovery.
Kyle loved nothing more than going on his walks. But one day, he just started losing interest. He didn't want to go on his walks like he used to. Thomas could normally get Kyle out of bed but and would follow, but Kyle just didn't want to go outside.
Thomas assumed that Kyle's strange behavior was due to the new environment and that he just had to get used to it. But after a few more weeks passed, he was still the same as always. Thomas knew he had to do something for his new dog. Maybe it was what he was eating? They changed food brands and even changed his dog bed. They thought that maybe he needed a more comfortable bed for his old joints. No matter what they tried, nothing seemed to do the trick. They'd only find out the problem on their next walk
Thomas tried to keep a positive mindset but it only got worse. Kyle lost interest in his food now and he didn't know what he could do for his dog. They had only moved because of Kyle, why did his behavior change? Thomas would soon find out the real reason.
Thomas decided to take Kyle to the vet to get him checked out. The vet performed a thorough physical exam, along with numerous tests to pick up any hidden problems. But when the results came back, the vet told Thomas that Kyle was perfectly healthy and was still in excellent condition. When Thomas voiced his concerns about Kyle's new behavior and his lack of energy, the vet was puzzled as well. But Thomas had no idea that he was about to solve the case himself -- on their next walk through the woods.
A Sudden Change
At first, that day's walk was normal, even though Kyle still wasn't acting like himself. Smith had brought Kyle on this route before, but when they started to veer off their usual trail to explore, that’s when Smith noticed something off about Kyle. The change was drastic and sudden. Thomas had no idea that a nasty surprise was waiting just around the corner.
Something Is Different
This was the longest time Kyle had been out of the city. He usually seemed to enjoy the long walks at his new home until recently. But today, something had changed. Kyle's hackles rose slightly as he picked up speed, jerking the lead from Tomas' hands as he ran into the woods and out of sight.
For a while now, Kyle had begun to act a little out of character. He was sullen and uninterested in food. He was slower. But on this walk, he suddenly perked his ears up and Smith saw Kyle for the first time as the police dog he used to be. His training kicked in as he sniffed frantically, following a trail that led him to a tree. Smith called him back but he wouldn’t come.
Sniffing It Out
Like all dogs, Kyle enjoyed sniffing everything he encountered on his walks. He'd often discover small animals, old toys that children had left behind, and once; some old clothes. If there was anything out of the ordinary on his trail, Kyle would find it. But this time, the source of whatever was unsettling him so much would end in a full-blown investigation.
When Thomas caught up, he was confused by Kyle's strange behavior. He looked up, thinking that maybe there was an animal in the tree above that was taunting him. But, with the branches left bare of leaves by winter, he quickly ruled that out. Whatever Kyle was smelling had to be something he couldn't see. What was wrong?
Thomas called him again but it was no use. Instead, Kyle lay down, frozen. Thomas tried to get him to move by luring him to his side with his favorite treats. He yelled commands at him, and when that didn't work, he pulled gently on his collar. However, Kyle had learned determination and discipline during his training. At some point, he stopped sniffing and sat down next to a huge tree.
Thomas was perplexed and slightly annoyed by Kyle's behavior and the stubbornness he was exhibiting. Although Thomas was confused, he was also very curious to find out what could trouble this highly-trained dog so much. Thomas wasn’t sure what to do, so he called John, Kyle’s ex-partner. Seeing as they had worked together for so many years, maybe he had seen Kyle do this before? Hopefully, would know a command or a way to get Kyle to obey.
What's Wrong With Kyle?
When John saw the call coming in from Kyle's new owner, his heart skipped a beat. Was Kyle sick? Had something happened to him? When Thomas explained what had been going on, starting with Kyle's change in behavior and his refusal to move, John couldn't help but feel relieved. Something had indeed happened to Kyle, but it was not as bad as he had imagined. And, luckily for Thomas, John did recognize this particular behavior. He explained that whenever they had searched for clues in a case and Kyle found a lead, he was trained to sit and wait near it.
When Thomas further explained that Kyle was sitting at the foot of a tree at that very moment, John became anxious. He was wondering what could be in or around that could warrant Kyle's warning. Thomas looked around to see if he could get help, but who was he kidding? They were in the deep of the woods with no chance of anyone passing by.
John explained that Kyle was trained to do this if he picked up a scent that was out of the ordinary or presented a danger. He told Smith to investigate the tree, but to be careful as it could be dangerous. “Is it drugs?” Smith thought. No, what he’d find was so much worse.
As Smith approached the tree, he saw that the bark was loose. Kyle began to bark loudly. Feeling encouraged, Smith braced himself and peeled it back, revealing the hollow inside of the tree. After peering into the dark, suddenly his eyes focused and he jumped back. It wasn't drugs. Kyle, on high-alert, awaited his follow up command.
Afraid that he would mess with the crime scene, he made sure not to touch the tree again. Without a moment's hesitation, Smith pulled out his phone and called the only person he could think to report it to -- he shakily dialed John's number. With his voice trembling, he described exactly what Kyle had found in that old tree. John, highly disturbed and utterly incredulous, rushed to gather forensics experts before they all raced out to the scene.
As soon as he sees the familiar sight of the cruisers, Kyle can’t contain his excitement. He runs toward John to a reunion that would drive you to tears. John enthusiastically greeted his old buddy, but with a serious matter to attend to, he soon made his way to the tree.
John pulls back the portion of loose tree bark. His heart raced and his hands trembled as Kyle urges him on with his frantic barking. When he looks inside the tree, his eyes pop as he confirms the heinous sight Thomas had described to him. He would need backup. What is it?
A Closer Look
Kyle had led them to a skeleton that had been stashed within the tree. However, it was so well packed within the tree that they had to carefully chop it down to assess what they were dealing with. Everyone held their breath as the remains were gently extricated. Who had they found? What had happened?
Growing More Lively
As they continued their work, Thomas was amazed at how lively Kyle became. It was like he was back to his normal self. Thomas noted how much Kyle loved John. But while he was watching Kyle, new information was unfolding.
Out Of His Depth
Officer John felt completely out of his depth when he saw the remains that had been stashed in the hollow tree. Ready to inform his chief police officer so that they could send more reinforcements out, he began to dial. But just before he could get hold of the station, someone stopped him.
The skeleton was a life-sized human skeleton, but it was also a fake. Someone must have planted it as a Halloween scare or prank within the tree bark and forgot about it. They laugh in relief but what they couldn’t understand is why Kyle would alert them to a situation like this. He would have been trained to learn the difference between non-threatening and threatening smells. Then it clicked.
An Orchestrated Crime Scene
Thomas was the first to put two and two together. He realized Kyle just wanted to see John. His recent behaviors showed signs of loneliness, he was missing his best friend and former partner. He knew John would come running at his police behavior. Perhaps that’s why he did this. Was it orchestrated? Kyle had been looking at John since he arrived.
John looked down at his ex-partner, who was still jumping around in excitement, licking his hands and nuzzling his legs. Then, it dawned on him that maybe this had never been about the skeleton. John recalled that, in all their years of working together, there was only one quick and foolproof way to get his attention.
Kyle must have known that there was no quicker way to make John rush to him... all he had to do was sit and bark when he found something -- just like he'd been trained to do. John couldn't help but laugh out loud when everything began to make sense. He bent down and scratched Kyle's head and looked deeply into his brown eyes.
Kyle's signal was a secret message for John, the partner he had missed so much. He'd missed him so deeply that he had to figure out how to see him again. Even though Kyle hadn't seen John since he'd moved to his new home, he remembers the days when they worked together and remains loyal.
John, still looking into Kyle's eyes, was incredibly moved by his display of unwavering loyalty and love. He decided to stay at the scene for a little longer so that he could spend some quality time with his ex-partner. As they walked around the woods alone, John could see how happy Kyle was. And, before leaving, John made a promise: he was going to visit Kyle as often as he could.
Now, John looked back at him for a while and laughed wholeheartedly. He looked at Kyle wagging his tail with a goofy grin, still jumping up and down with happiness. Kyle's lack of energy and enthusiasm had completely disappeared when he saw John -- he was acting like a completely different dog.
John felt a sudden pain of guilt and heartache but knew he had made the right decision. With Thomas by his side, petting Kyle and laughing along with the ruckus he caused, he thought: "What a smart old pup!" This story illustrates how little credit we give dogs. But sometimes, a dog is smart enough to save an entire family...