Monday, November 19, 2012

Man's Best Friend

My best friend

Dogs are truly man’s best friend. Nothing else gives you the same unconditional love or accepts you as you are—tall/short, fat/thin, ugly/amazing—nothing matters if you care about the dog. That’s all he asks. I’m a dog lover, always have been, always will be.
From childhood I’ve had wonderful dogs. They’ve shared everything with me—my bed, my Brussels sprouts, and my heart. They licked away my tears, lay by my side when I was sick, and stole my lollipops. They were my best friends, and I grieved for each one when their time on earth was up.
I’m also fond of heroes. So when I found Kevin Hanrahan’s blog about Military Working Dogs (MWDs), it seemed perfect. He has wonderful true stories about these heroic dogs and the work they do in Afghanistan, Iran, and other areas. They’ve saved many lives and, just as our military men and women do, often give their lives. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  For many years, they were euthanized after their service was over. President Clinton made them eligible for adoption, at least those with the right temperament.
Kate, Muffet, Misty
On Kevin’s blog, I read about a soldier named Marc and his dog Anax. You can read their story at 
At the same time, I was having trouble bringing one of my characters to life. As soon as I read about Anax, Jax sprang into my heart. He became Connor Moran’s dog in my new book, Time of Death, giving life to both of them. Jax is a hero in his own right, one of my favorite characters.
I have pictures of most of my characters, and I wanted one for Jax.  His real name is Zakhar, but he’s my Jax. I fell for the alert, caring look on his face.
Here’s Jax’s history as told by Connor, from Time of Death.
“Were you in the Middle East?”
Afghanistan. Jax and his handler were assigned to my unit. Jax alerted on the wall of a house we were searching. It had a thin stucco surface, clearly a new addition. We figured, judging by Jax’s behavior, it hid weapons or explosives. We backed off to wait for the bomb squad to do their thing, but a little kid ran out and fired directly into the wall. The whole thing exploded, and the unit came under heavy fire. Jax’s handler was hit. When the insurgents swarmed us, Jax stood over him, protecting him. They killed his handler and shot Jax. It cost him a leg and he had to retire. I only had a few months left, so I adopted him.”
How about you? Do you have dogs or memories of your best friend from childhood? 


Polly Iyer said...

We've had and lost many dogs, and each time it's devastating. Right now, we have Max. He's my son's dog, but because of his situation, he can't take care of Max. I understand. Max is a high-maintenance dog. He barks if we go outside. He runs away because he likes freedom, so we can't let him out without a leash, even in our back yard to do his business. We learned that quickly. Once, he opened the storm door after I went out and started down our driveway. I fell flat on my face going after him. He stopped, looked at me, then when I got up and he knew I was okay, he took off. We want to get mad at him, but one look at his droopy-eyed face and we melt.

Polly Iyer said...

Oh, and he whines. Almost all the time.

Ellis Vidler said...

LOL. Max has issues.

We couldn't do without our two. We've had many, and all have enriched our lives and given us many stories to tell. One, a German shepherd, brought home a deer. I'm sure some hapless hunter took it off his car and went in the house for a minute, only to find it missing when he returned.

Nancy Lauzon said...

Great post! I've had a lifelong love for dogs. There's nothing better than coming home after a long day and being greeted at the door with a tail wag and a lick on the cheek. Jax sounds like an amazing character.

laura thomas said...

That's a perfect picture for Jax! I love Kevin's blog.
I've always had dogs and they are all still in my heart. I call to Molly, my chow chow, when I drive by where my old house used to be. The tree she's buried under still stands.
My recent dog Quigley, part hound/part pitbull, is my shadow. He's sweet and funny and so human. Sometimes he drives me crazy, but then when he's finally leaving me alone, I have to go pet him. I miss him.

Ellis Vidler said...

Nothing offers reassurance and comfort as well as a dog. Nancy, I know the feeling. When you come home late to a dark house and your best friend is so excited to see you, it gives your spirit a huge lift.

Think of all the research that shows people with dogs recover from illness and surgery significantly faster than others.

Ellis Vidler said...

Laura, I know how you feel. I still talk to those who are gone. Recently I found a stuffed, squeaky pig that belonged to one of our Westies. She carried it everywhere--seeing Pig brought her back so vividly. She's the middle one in the photo, Muffet.

In recent years, we adopt from the Humane Society. We've been fortunate and found great friends.

Vicki Lane said...

I can't imagine life without dogs -- we've always had them -- as many as six at a time. The BEST friends there are...