Remembering Joanie, the arson dog

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017

Picayune’s arson dog of the past 9 years died on Aug. 8, but her legacy will live on forever. She was 11-years-old.
Joanie, a black retriever, joined the Picayune Fire Department after caregiver and Fire Marshal Pat Weaver went to pick her up for training in Maine in 2008.
“Every person there was given a dog, and I got Joanie. When I first saw her, I immediately knew she would be good at her job,” Weaver said.
Not only was she good at being an arson dog, but she enjoyed every second of it, from visiting kids at locals schools to helping find evidence used in many court cases, some involving murder.
She worked as an arson dog from the day she got to Picayune until Oct. 2016. She was three years old when she arrived.
“She never complained about working and was more well-behaved than my own kids,” Weaver said jokingly.
Weaver and Joanie had a special relationship, one that most dog owners can’t say they share with their canine companion.
Arson dogs live and breathe their training, and only eat as an award after they find an accelerant, Weaver said.
Joanie would only eat out of Weaver’s hand. They did that together 40 times per day.
She also went to the bathroom on command, after Weaver would say “break.”
“She will always be special to me. It’s one of those things that is sad, but it happens to all of us and you just have to accept that,” he said.
In her last day, Weaver said before he left for work, he pet Joanie on the head and walked out the door.
Weaver’s wife was home with Joanie when she had her “break” later that day.
“Usually she will take about 10 minutes to do her thing and just wander,” Weaver said.
However, Joanie didn’t come back. While outside, Joanie laid down in the grass. Moments later, her heart gave out.
“I knew this time was coming. I just didn’t want her to suffer and I’m glad it happened the way it did. She deserved to leave peacefully,” he said.
Janet Guidry, secretary at Picayune Fire Department, said Joanie was a huge part of the fire department family and her presence will be greatly missed.
Joanie’s service to the department did not go unnoticed and she will never be forgotten, Weaver said.

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