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A Dying Service Dog Gets One Last Rescue Mission

The Massachusetts Canine Response Team gives Mishi the black Lab one more assignment before they had to put her to sleep.

 |  Mar 14th 2014  |   8 Contributions

This story is a heartbreaker, however you cut it, so if you're going to keep reading, brace yourself.

Putting a beloved dog to sleep is never an easy thing, even when you know it's the kindest thing possible. This week, the Massachusetts Canine Response Team had to say goodbye to one of its members: Machiko (or Mishi for short), a 5-year-old black Labrador Retriever, reported WCVB. A few weeks ago, what initially appeared to be a slight limp turned out to be an aggressive form of bone cancer. She was diagnosed as terminal, and her handlers made the painful decision to put her to sleep on Wednesday morning.

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Friends and work partners gather around Mishi for her last rescue mission.

But Tuesday night, the team got together to give her a proper farewell by staging one search mission in Hopkinton State Park. Despite her pain, Machiko ran through the snow-covered park on three legs, enthusiastically searching out the "missing" team member.

It took her 10 minutes to find the missing member, but it was an emotional 10 minutes for the team, watching one of their own hunt as vigorously as ever, for what was going to be the last time.

"When you train a search dog, you spend thousands of hours together. It creates a bond that's very strong," Cheryl Oetting, one of the team's handlers, told WCVB. "It's hard to lose a partner."

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Cheryl Oetting, one of the handlers on the team.

Russ Doucette, who trained and handled Machiko, said that he wanted her to have a "last hurrah" before she was put to sleep.

"She's my partner, she's my friend, and she's a family member," he said.

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Ross Doucette, Mishi's trainer.

News footage showed just how painfully emotional that last hurrah was for everyone. Machiko, on the other hand, just seemed happy to be surrounded by her workmates and the people she loved. As she hunted the park and came back to the car, her tail wagged enthusiastically.

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Our condolences to all the members of the team, and congratulations on such a lovely and touching farewell to a beautiful dog.


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