Monday, January 24, 2011


It's been a while since we've heard from our Golden Retriever, Mason, in this blog.  It's not that he hasn't been talking because he does alot.  In fact, there's not a day that goes by that he doesn't say something. Some days he is simply a little more animated.   This morning, he seemed more talkative and a little more intense in his dog speak.  I just sat there for awhile admiring all that he is to us and thankful that he is part of our family.  I think that's what he wanted me to do.....just stay still and appreciate his kind.  Here's what came out it.

Mason knows he is fortunate to live where he does.  However, that doesn't mean that he forgets about the sacrifice he knows his "kind" make each and every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Sadly, there are two sides to this story.  The dogs that live in these countries and those that are employed by our troops.

Remember Michael Vick and the outrage our country felt when dog fighting became a hot button issue?  Well, apparently the outcry of animal abuse hasn't made its way to Afghanistan.  Under the Taliban regime dog fighting was forbidden. Today, it is a source of entertainment for hundreds of Afghans who join the crowd to see dog fightings, organized on a weekly basis in Mazar-e-Sharif.  Dogs only older than one year are brought to the battlefield for fights which sometimes are arranged on bets up to thousands of US dollars. These animals are fed with milk, butter and meat and are well cared for by their owners. According to dog owners, the animals from Mazar-e-Sharif city produce the best dogs for fights.

Words cannot express this abuse properly
Attitudes expressed by the people of Afghanistan make a point that supports a lack of respect for life.  One 76-year old, Haji Fasiz Mohammad simply states, "I've grown up in war, so anything that involves a fight, I love.  Since the people of Afghanistan have always been fighting", he says, "what else can we love except fighting?"

Fazel Ahmad Manawi, a member of the government's council of religious scholars, said the fighting and betting involved in animal fights are against Islamic law.  "We will propose (a ban) to the government again," he said. "Only one fighting is legitimate and that is to defend ourselves and our homeland."   Perhaps, Michael Vick should make a trip here, you think?

Our son has told us of the sad treatment of animals in general in Afghanistan.  He has seen first hand outside the wire at his FOB (Forward Operating Base) the lack of love, affection and even tolerance that animals face every day from the people of Afghanistan.  Some dogs are taken in by soldiers and become a "buddy" to the troops. And then, there are the stories of those fortunate ones, the dogs that become so attached to a soldier, that he or she ends up bringing it back with them to the states.  

On the flip side, there are stories upon stories of our four-legged friends coming to the rescue of our troops.  Britain's Arms and Explosives Search Dog save hundreds each and every year.  If you look at their pictures you'll see their "cuteness".  But don't be fooled.  They have a job to do and they do it well.  The following is an excerpt from a Telegraph Media Group story by Robert Chesshyre.

Cute, Lovable and Preservers of Life
 Dogs have been part of the British effort from the beginning of the Afghan conflict, but their use has rapidly increased. For security reasons, the Army withholds the exact numbers deployed.  For as long as armies have fought, there have been dogs of war. Two and a half millennia ago the Lydians in Anatolia had fighting-dog battalions; dogs were deployed at the Battle of Marathon in 490bc; the Romans used them; Napoleon understood their value; in the First World War they hauled guns and delivered messages; they have long served as tracker and guard dogs.

Two years ago a full helicopter emergency rescue, involving 26 troops, was launched in Helmand to pluck Monty, a 10-year-old Springer spaniel, from a forward base where it was feared that he had swallowed plastic explosives. Such an operation is normally mounted only to evacuate seriously wounded soldiers, demonstrating how important dogs are to the fighting effort. In fact, no trace of explosives was found in Monty, and he recovered after 24 hours on a drip and a few days' rest.

The ultimate value of AES dogs on the Afghan front line, measured in soldiers' (and civilian) lives saved, has been recognised by the award to two military dogs of the Dickin Medal (established in 1943 by Maria Dickin, the founder of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, and known as the animals' VC). In 2007 Sadie, a nine-year-old black Labrador, discovered a secondary explosive device amid the carnage of a suicide blast outside the UN headquarters in Kabul. The MoD said that 'hundreds of our boys owe their lives to Sadie's keen sense of smell'. (Sadie's handler at the time was L/Cpl Karen Yardley. RAVC women share battlefield risks alongside the men, unlike women infantry soldiers, who do not serve on the front line.)

Last year Treo, another eight-year-old Labrador, received the award when working as a "forward detection dog". He turned up two "daisy chain" bombs – multiple explosives wired together – in Sangin, one of the most dangerous environments in Helmand. Treo's action had saved many lives. When Treo received his Dickin Medal from Princess Alexandra, his handler, Sgt Dave Heyhoe, said, 'He is a very good friend: we look after each other.'

So, you can see why Mason and I connected this morning.  He's proud of what his brothers and sisters do.  And well he should be.  Thanks for sharing again, you big hunk.  Any time you want, SPEAK, okay Mason?



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