Thursday, January 3, 2008

loyal service

I was fiddling around on the internet during a lull at work and came across this slightly surprising piece of news -- that Dustin Lee's family had finally been approved to adopt their son's USMC dog, Lex. In short, Dusty was killed by an RPG in Fallujah last March while looking for explosives with Lex; while injured himself, Lex stood over his mortally wounded handler and needed to be pulled away so medics could work on him.

The picture is of Dusty and Lex in Iraq -- I borrowed it from the
Marine Corps Times article that documents some of the initial frustration that Lee's family were experiencing trying to adopt Lex from the Corps. This is the intial AP story announcing the USMC's decision to retire Lex early and let him go to the Lee's home. (Strangely, the AP story is dated before the Times article, but I guess that has more to do with publication deadlines.) Most importantly, though, here is the blog that Dusty Lee's family put together to drum up support for their request to adopt Lex.

I wanted to post this to not only recognize Dusty's sacrifice and Lex's loyalty and dedication to his task and to his handler, but because I was frankly a little shocked by the whole scenario. I knew the Marine Corps especially had taken dogs into combat in the Pacific during WW2 -- but I had no idea that the military dogs were treated like so much equipment. As an example, and to quote the Marine Corps Times article: "During the Vietnam War, thousands of dogs were abandoned or euthanized when U.S. troops withdrew. Virtually none came home." That mortifies me. This feels right up there with Nathan Winograd's assessment of animal shelter management -- that it would be cheaper and easier just to kill a dog than try to honor its service and find a suitable home for it.

Bill Clinton was the first US President to draw up legislation to protect retired military working dogs in November 2000; George W. Bush then added an Defense Appropriations Bill amendment in December 2005 to allow early retirement for military dogs and subsequent adoption by their handlers. And this is the website for a non-profit dedicated to protecting retired military working dogs. (This picture is from the Wikipedia entry on war dogs.)

I am grateful to Dusty and Lex that our dogs will never have to give that kind of sacrifice.

Nevertheless, in honor of our two and while our own house is quieter than usual, I offer Momo and Jozsi this:

Staunch on point --
no need for a metaphor --
one proud father.


Jim Tantillo said...

Andrew, I meant to comment last night about these last three posts. Coincidences--I succeeded Nathan Winograd at the TC animal shelter when he left; I now run the State Theatre, where Vieux Farka Touré was one of our shows this year; and I wrote my thesis on the definition of "sporting." weird.


Andrew Campbell said...

Jim: Knew you were a smart guy with good taste! Just checked out the State Theatre website... I was impressed to see Yungchen Lhamo had come and then saw that HHDL had visited too. Angelique Kidjo should be a great show to look forward to.