A Boy & His Dog (& Internet)

Silhouette of a soldier against the sun.

Semper Fi, and Then Some

Today, it’s another story of combat veteran meets dog. Do a Google search, and you’ll be inundated with them. Yet there was something about this former United States Marine’s sense of mission that caught my smile as well as my eye. From NBC News, it is “He Was My Rock: Veteran with PTSD United with Military Dog.

Former Lance Corporal David Pond one day met a Belgian malinois named Pablo, and they decided that they would go play together for while: sniffing out bombs in the wilds of Afghanistan.

In a land with very high rocks, usually covered in danger, CPL Pond found his rock much closer at hand. A hardheaded kid from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado had collided with a hardheaded dog at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, resulting in a partnership that saved many lives, including their very own.

Hardheadedness, especially when embodied within a US Marine, does not disappear at the EOS (expiration of obligated service) date—and especially when one’s rock has a much later one. Pablo ended up protecting Presidents long after David had returned home, but the former corporal knew where the dog’s heart still resided. When he couldn’t seem to impress the brass with that truth, he ended up on the ever-ready Change.org with a petition that finally weaved its way to the office of the Secretary of the Navy.

And Pablo’s back where he should be, retired after his very own ceremony and everything.

Now that, my friends, is Semper Fi.

I smile at Mr. Pond’s tenacity. I smile at his and his dog’s happiness. And I smile that the good corporal never forgot that he still had what it took to get the job done: to bring home a friend who will now help his owner, his battle buddy, do what needs to be done now, to find some peace in this world and move forward into a life far away from the dangers hidden in the crevices of rocks, with a rock that never forgot him and never will.

Good luck, gentleman. The open field is that-a-way. Have at it.

Until tomorrow, be well,


The Vet Whisperers

Hippotherapy, it’s called: horses that calmly offer the wounded a chance to re-find connection, a mutual gaze, to venture a stroke of a hand across a neck, proposing the possibility of trust once again. In Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Straw, a mare once gravely injured herself, offers herself up as equa semper fidelis et parata, always faithful and prepared to engage combat veterans in a silent conversation about what it means to heal, to move forward again.

In War, the soldier at another soldier’s side is not merely a back-up, but rather an extension of one’s very being, a part of one’s self who just happens to be a few steps ahead, behind, a chunk of one’s soul who might, moments from now, be propelled into oblivion, leaving in the wake a crater in land and heart that dares anyone to try to fill it.

When one has a gaping hole in one’s essence, one often does not find comfort in language spoken by any human, no matter how loved she or he may be. Yet a gentle nudge along the edges of the wound by a horse, a dog, can possibly begin its closure, one tail wag, one snort at a time, an unspoken whisper to remind man now, not beast, that peace, even if it never seemed possible again, still perhaps can be.

%d bloggers like this: