An Iraqi Dog's Life
One of my favorite soldier blogs from Iraq is Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal, written by an Army lieutenant serving in "Anu al-Verona" (a fictitious name) as a platoon leader. He writes colorful, moving, beautifully descriptive missives that remind me what it was like to soldier there -- and make me miss it too.
Last week, he posted this note describing his platoon's experience with a dog it adopted temporarily. He ends his note with this vignette:
I woke up before the sun the next morning. It has been a few months since I've been able to sleep for more than three hours at a time, something that - for better or for worse - seems to match our daily schedule. I grabbed a book out of my assault pack, found a group of ammo cans and old sandbags that served as a makeshift chair in this bizarro paradise, and fled the land of action for the land of words. Dawn's light soon replaced my flashlight, and shortly after that, the unmistakable sound of a pup's growl interrupted me. I looked up. Across the way, trotting down an empty ditch, the dog had discovered that it was not alone this morning.
"What do you want?" I asked.
My rhetorical question was all too obvious, and received an all too obvious answer. The dog perked up its ears and tilted its head to the side, and barked at me as if to say, "you know exactly what I want, you clown. I've been sent from the golden retriever gods to make you stop thinking for a few minutes. Grab a stick and let's make this happen." I threw the dog a stick for some minutes, and then I returned to my book. When I did, it curled up at my feet for an early morning nap. The sum result of the experience refreshed me mentally the way clean water can refresh physically - for a few minutes, I escaped the madness, the deadlines, the wars within the war. I escaped it all. I didn't have to embrace the Suck, or wait around for it to embrace me first. I embraced the normal. My normal. There was nothing more normal in my reality than a book and a dog, and that still seemed be the case.
It all ended, of course. But not before I remembered a few things.
Sometimes, little things like playing with a dog can make all the difference in the world.
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