Best friends on Earth, reunited in heaven

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. drug sniffer / drʌg ˈsnɪf ər / (n.) – a dog trained to use its sense of smell to find illegal drugs

    You shouldn’t pet the drug sniffers at the airport. They’re working.

  2. inseparable / ɪnˈsɛp ər ə bəl / (adj.) – very close and almost always together

    My brother and his best friend are inseparable.

  3. litter / ˈlɪt ər / (n.) – a group of young animals born at the same time from the same mother

    Jenna found a litter of kittens under her front porch.

  4. deter (someone) from (doing something) / dɪˈtɜr frʌm / (phrasal v.) – to prevent or discourage someone from doing something

    Being a student-athlete did not deter him from graduating with honors.

  5. whatshisname / wʌts hɪz ˈneɪm / (n.) – an informal term used to refer to a man or boy when one can’t remember or doesn’t know his name

    Did you see whatshisname today? The guy who’s always wearing that green hat.


Read the text below.

You never know when the best friend you could ever hope to have will suddenly appear in your life and change it forever. That was what happened to Ohio Sheriff Dan McClelland when he picked out a puppy to train as a drug sniffer. From day one the pair were inseparable, bonded as much by love as mutual respect.

McClelland named his little dog “Midge.” She was a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix and the smallest in her litter. Sheriff McClelland could pick her up and hold her with one hand, and Midge is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest police dog in the world. But size never deterred Midge from doing her job. She was an excellent drug sniffer, able to locate drugs in cars without tearing the upholstery or leaving marks. She could get under vehicles and squeeze into cubbyholes. McClelland took her to work every day, and the police dog had her own day bed in pride of place right beside the sheriff’s desk.

Midge and Sheriff McClelland worked together for a decade before he retired in 2016. McClelland had served Ohio’s Geauga County for 44 years and was well known as a conscientious sheriff who loved his job. But he wasn’t as famous as Midge. McClelland used to joke to his friends that whenever he and Midge were riding in a car in a local parade, people would point and say, “Hey, there’s Midge and whatshisname.”

Last month, Dan McClelland passed away in a hospital after a long battle with cancer. He was 67. Midge died mere hours after McClelland, at age 16. People who knew the pair said that Midge died of a broken heart. Others commented that Midge didn’t want her best friend journeying to heaven all on his own. Both may be true. McClelland’s family held a funeral that honored both man and dog. They were buried together, inseparable to the very end. (The Japan Times)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • People who knew the pair said that Midge died of a broken heart. Do you think it’s possible to die of a broken heart? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In English, it’s often said that dogs are “man’s best friend.” Do you agree that humans have a stronger connection with dogs than with other animals, or is it possible to have the same bond with other species (ex. cats, lizards)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Midge worked as a drug sniffer for ten years. Some people say that dogs shouldn’t have jobs, but others point out that they often enjoy the work. Do you think it’s okay for dogs to have jobs? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • McClelland picked out Midge, who was the smallest puppy in her litter. If you were picking out a puppy from a litter, how would you decide which puppy you wanted (ex. personality, energy level)? Why? Discuss.