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Written by
Ed Frawley

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Gabby Has a Dream



Gabby, Ed & a few DARE graduates
My ex-wife, Jeanne, has always had an interest in writing. Awhile ago she took a writing class at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. One of the projects for her class was to write a children’s story. She wrote Gabby Has a Dream, which is about my retired narcotics dog Gabby.

Her story touched my heart, so I have included it on this page.

While the story is certainly fictional, it follows pretty closely to Gabby’s life with me. She is a black lab-mix that came from the Menomonie dog pound in 1989. She worked with me on the Sheriff’s Department until May of 1999. In her day, she was one of the finest narcotics detection dogs in the State of Wisconsin. She certainly taught me more than I taught her. Gabby was involved in 700 or 800 drug searches in her career. Her most successful day resulted in 27 drug finds and arrests at a Somerset Rock concert, (she had a number of very successful days at Somerset over the years). She assisted in seizing over $250,000.00 in cash alone from various drug dealers over her 9 1/2 year career.

On her last drug search in May of 1999, Gabby found 6 oz. of cocaine hidden in the air cleaner under the hood of a vehicle on Interstate 94. Part of our plea agreement with the gang members who were transporting the drugs from Chicago to Minneapolis was a $4,000.00 donation to the Dunn County DARE Program.

For me, Gabby’s proudest achievement, over the years, was the work she did as an ambassador for our Sheriff’s Department at the many graduating DARE classes and other talks I did to youth groups in Dunn County schools on drugs and law enforcement. I used to get a kick out of telling the kids at the DARE graduations that Gabby was trained to find cocaine, marijuana, heroin, opium, and methamphetamine. But the thing she likes to search for most is DARE CAKE, so if they didn’t want to lose their piece of cake (that we always have at the DARE graduation ceremonies) they needed to keep a close eye on their plates.



It’s not hard to guess how Gabby got her name. From the day she was dropped off at the animal shelter, the kennel staff there tried everything to get her to quiet down. They gave her doggy treats, walked her up and down the driveway, brushed her coat, and petted her whenever they had time. But Gabby kept right on barking.

“Gab, gab, gab. If you keep this up we’re going to have to call you Gabby,” joked one of the shelter volunteers. And so they did.

Born the runt of a large litter of Black Labradors, Gabby had come to the shelter as a puppy. Her mother loved her very much, but she just couldn’t keep up with all 13 of her new babies. Knowing her littlest one would have a better chance of survival in a home with lots of children to play with, she agreed to send her to the animal shelter where she would be well taken care of until the right family came along.

Gabby missed her mom and her brothers and sisters, but the people at the shelter were good to her and she knew it was just a matter of time before a family would pick her to take home with them.

To keep from getting bored or feeling lonely, Gabby spent her days dreaming about the life she would someday have. She would live in a house far out in the country where there were no fences or pens. All day she would run the wide open spaces with the children who loved her and they would play games and go swimming in the creek together. At night she would sleep in the children’s bedroom guarding them from any harm, real or imagined. The parents would give her treats for watching over their beloved children.

But days turned into months and still Gabby remained at the shelter. Every day, moms and dads would bring their children by looking for a pet to take home with them. They would ooh and aah over all the little puppies, but Gabby was passed by time after time.

Whenever a visitor came to her pen, she barked and jumped excitedly. Surely spunk was a desirable quality in a pet, thought Gabby. So she lived up to her name, which only made matters worse.

What Gabby didn’t understand was that she had grown into a full-size adult dog by now. People weren’t anxious to invite a 35 pound Labrador into their living rooms, especially one so spirited. They could only imagine her crashing into their coffee tables and ripping up their rugs and jumping on their children.

She didn’t give up though, and one day all of her energy paid off. A big man with a bright yellow star on his pocket came to the shelter. He carried a tennis ball in his hand, and Gabby noticed it right away. She loved to play with a ball. Sometimes the volunteers there played catch with her instead of taking her on a walk. Now, she wanted more than anything for this man to throw that tennis ball to her.

Suddenly, as if reading Gabby’s mind, he tossed the ball into her pen. She tore after it like a hungry fish and then, biting down hard, she hurried back to the fence where the man was standing. Good dog, he praised her, and Gabby swelled with pride. Then he let her out of her pen and threw it again. He tossed, she fetched. He tossed, she fetched. Over and over until finally, he looked at his watch and said something to the shelter workers that Gabby couldn’t quite hear.

They were calling the man Ed and as she got closer, she listened in amazement as Ed said in a deep, strong voice, I’d like to take her with me for a few days to do some testing. The workers agreed to a temporary release and the next thing Gabby knew she was riding in the back seat of a police car feeling like a king on a mountain. They drove to Ed’s house where she met his family. Gabby didn’t jump on their furniture or rip up their carpeting. She didn’t even chase their cat, Garfield, although it was tempting. This was the home she had been dreaming of and she was determined to make a good impression. After a big dinner of dog food and meat loaf scraps, she quietly followed the children upstairs to their bedroom where she slept peacefully for the first time in her life.

Early the next morning, Ed woke her up and took her with him in the police car again. They drove to a big open field and played ball for hours. Ed had some new games for her besides toss and fetch. Sometimes he would step on the ball with his foot and encourage Gabby to try and get it away from him. Gabby loved this game! Another one was hide and go seek where Ed would hide several tennis balls and Gabby would sniff out the one that had a funny smell to it. Ed taught her to bark and scratch at the spot where she found it. Whenever she was successful, he would reward her with another tennis ball.

Every morning they played the games which Ed called training.

“She’s crazy for a ball,” Ed said one day to another man with a yellow star on his pocket. “I think she’s going to work out fine.” Gabby knew then that she wouldn’t be going back to the shelter. She jumped and barked and jumped and barked until Ed had to tell her to “sit,” which she did promptly.

A few weeks later, Gabby found out what all the games were for. Ed was training her to be a Narcotics Detection dog or “drug dog” for short. Soon Gabby was ready for the real thing and Ed started taking her on what he called “drug busts.” He took her out with him every time the phone rang, and it rang a lot! They would go to the freeway and Gabby would sniff out cars for marijuana and cocaine. Sometimes they would go to houses or apartments to do the same.

Whenever Gabby found drugs, Ed would toss her a tennis ball and tell her what a “good dog” she was. All the other men with yellow stars seemed to like her too. They were always saying things like, “Good Gabby!” “Way to go, Gabby” “Gabby’s the best!” It all seemed like a lot of fun to her until the day she and Ed were called to a house where she sniffed and scratched finding drugs everywhere including the inside of a coffeepot. There were children in the house and Gabby thought they looked sad. She wished she could take time out to play with them and try to cheer them up. “What kind of parents would expose their kids to drugs?” Gabby worried.

By the time they were through with the job, Gabby didn’t even want her tennis ball. She just wanted to go home and try to forget about the bad stuff she had seen that day. Ed was in the same mood, and as they drove home, the car was silent. Then Ed had an idea. “Gabby,” he announced, “we need to stop kids from trying drugs so they don’t grow up to be parents who use drugs.”

This sounded like a good idea to Gabby, but how? That next week, she found out. Ed took her to a place he called a school. As they walked down the hallway, all the children said “hi” to Gabby and petted her, which she loved. Then Ed led her into the gymnasium. “Cool,” thought Gabby as she looked around at all the equipment in the big room.

When the children took their seats, Ed began to talk. His voice bellowed from every corner of the room as he explained to the kids about the dangers of drugs. He talked to them about how drugs could make them lose their friends and effect their grades. He told them stories about arresting drug dealers and sending them to prison.

“Why do kids start using drugs?” he asked his audience. “We don’t know for sure,” he admitted. “We suspect some try it for a thrill, others do it because they’re afraid to say ‘No’ for fear of being left out, and we know some kids start using drugs because they feel depressed about something going on in their lives. If someone has a problem they can’t handle by themselves or with their parents, the teachers and counselors here at school are more than willing to help. I personally guarantee drugs aren’t the answer!”

“The good news is, most kids don’t want anything to do with drugs. Most kids want to go to a school that is safe and drug free. That is why I brought my dog, Gabby, with me today.”

Then he called Gabby over to him and together they demonstrated how she could sniff out drugs no matter how well they were hidden. The children listened and they clapped for Gabby when she found the drugs. Ed threw her a tennis ball and told his audience how he had found Gabby at the shelter and that her passion for a ball had been a good sign that she could be trained for drug work.

“Gabby is a very special member of our law enforcement community now and she would like to be your friend too. Together we’ll be visiting all the schools on a regular basis to make sure all of you have an opportunity to get your education in a drug free environment.”

To Gabby’s surprise, he finished by saying, “Today the sheriff’s department would like to honor Gabby and her work by giving her a special badge to wear whenever she is in the schools.” Then, as a thunderstorm of applause broke out, Ed placed a collar with a shiny gold star on it around her neck.

Gabby barked with pride. She knew the war on drugs wouldn’t be easy, but for the future of these children, she was ready to do her part in the fight.

At home that night she lay down in her usual spot in the children’s bedroom. Tired from her busy day at school, she was looking forward to spending the next day at home with her family. Her dream had come true and she was grateful for that, but as she closed her eyes, a new dream began to form; that night the entire community of children was safe and sound and drug free.



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