ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2008) -- Teachers have heard it innumerable times from children who decided to play outside instead of knuckling down, but now it was a grown man lamenting the actions of his "best friend."

"'The dog ate my homework!' is something we heard and said as kids," said Col. Wanda Good, commander, Human Resources Command-St. Louis. "But this is truly, 'The dog ate my retirement papers!'"

To Master Sgt. Robert R. Chaney's golden retriever, manila envelopes must be like a bone from the butcher shop. When Chaney arrived home one day, he found Darcy devouring a government envelope -- not an accidental nibble while delivering the mail to her master, but a deliberate chow-down.

Chaney was dismayed when he discovered the large envelope contained all the paperwork related to his retirement from the Army Reserve.

"I will just have to get this replaced," he said to himself. And instead of a scolding, Darcy got a hug and a pat on the head from her forgiving master.

But it just wasn't going to be that easy, Chaney thought. The documents were in such bad shape that the only clue to their point of origin was the phrase, "Transition and Separations Branch."

Chaney decided to investigate further by using the Internet. He typed in his only clue, and a seemingly endless list of Army jargon and acronyms appeared. Chaney selected a link to Army Echoes, a magazine for Army retirees. Army Echoes had information about HRC-St. Louis, which handles reserve component retirements.

The next morning, Chaney dialed the toll-free number for HRC-St. Louis. Before long, Chaney was talking to the person who had approved his retirement packet: Sharon Prost of the personnel actions and services directorate.

Prost offered to fax Chaney the documents, but Chaney wanted a retirement certificate that was suitable for framing, so he asked her to mail a new packet.

"I will put it all in the mail today," she said.

In a word, Chaney was "shocked." That kind of professionalism can be hard to come by in this day and age, but it's the status quo for HRC-St. Louis.

In two days, Chaney received a new retirement packet, this one untouched by Darcy the golden retriever.

Chaney wrote a letter of thanks to Prost's supervisor, Sheila Dorsey. The letter made its way to the desk of the HRC-St. Louis commander, who recognized Prost for her professionalism and efficiency in a small ceremony Jan. 17.

"I thought I'd heard it all, but this was a new one on me," the colonel said.

It goes without saying that Darcy is no longer allowed to get the mail.