All too suddenly I received the following email:
"With mournful regret, the California Narcotic & Explosive Canine Association gives notice that Dan Lamaster tragically perished in a residential house fire on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The Canine Community has lost a pioneer, a, visionary, an icon, a true friend. There are times when mere words are insufficient to describe a person's life contribution both personally and professionally. It would be impossible to ever accurately determine the number of people and dogs that Dan has positively influenced during his career, his life. Dan was an original founding member of the California Narcotic Canine Association. His twenty years of unselfish contribution both on the field and in the classroom has been an integral factor that directly contributed to the overall quality and success of CNCA. Dan contributed so much, quietly, behind the scenes, without any intent to seek any kind of recognition, but instead did it because he wanted to be part of something that in the end would make us all better handler's, better trainer's, better people. His kindness and compassion will always be, in all ways, a testament to his true character. As we slowly and over time come to realize what a substantial loss we have all incurred on so many levels, let's give pause, remember and reflect on the absolute kind Soul that Dan was and continues to be and together we all must celebrate his life. He would have not wanted or accepted anything less. "
I knew Danny for just a few years as I researched Explosive Detection K9 teams and training in the Southland. We established a bit of a friendship based on his love of dogs and literature. When I first met him, he was engrossed in Steinbeck's East of Eden-"for the 13th time!" Danny was a dog whisperer, a man who could train the most stubborn or inattentive puppy to hunt and find explosives, contraband or people. He was, as CNECA points out, a precious resource to Law Enforcement; his shoes will never be quite filled.
He was also the lover of books and a resource to this writer. Without his encouragement, I would not be writing my newest and third novel (on K9 officers and their handlers.) Without his presence, I am forced to continue with just his last words to live up to. Danny finished the first act of my new novel as an informal editor and told a mutual friend: "tell michael I want more!"
Sometimes, writers write for themselves--the very least important reason. Sometimes, they write a story that honors others--the most important reason.