You have finally landed on the one page on this entire site (and on the entire internet for that matter) that is purely without bullshit... my soapbox page. There are a lot of times during our show that, whether it's because of time constraints and other obligations, I don't always get to address some issues that I feel don't get the attention they deserve. There are even more times when I just don't feel like waiting until the show the next day to get some things off my chest. Thus, I have started the "Rob's Soapbox" page. If you have clicked on this page looking for someone to coddle your fragile sense of self-esteem, or tell you what you want to hear or to reinforce your outdated world view, then exit this page right now and go somewhere else. If you are in search of the last forum for reason and common sense left in the world, then sit back, relax, and enjoy. I make only one promise with this soapbox page... if you read long enough and often enough, you will eventually be offended. So here's my latest soapbox. Listen up, 'cause you just might learn something...
Januray 21st, 2008
A DOG’S LOVE; AND A REMINDER OF PEOPLE SUCKING
Based on history, I am knowingly in troubled waters with this column. In the rare instances I have tried before to use this space for anything closely relating to sappiness, corniness, or perhaps more specifically, a lack of frustration with the world, I have been inundated with comments ranging from the declaration my pussiness to my complete, total and utter sell-out.
Initially, my response was to try to remind you that the very reason those of us that see the world the way it ought to be, assume positions of prominence, influence and pulpit is so that we can effect change. Our goal is not to see the world continue to suck, but rather to slowly change it into a better place. Make no mistake about it; I am not a drama queen. I do not thrive upon conflict, stupidity and all of the mistakes I see made around me on a daily basis. I would much rather see people taking personal responsibility, demonstrating self respect and doing the best they could possibly do for themselves. To that end, when such changes occur, it would seem natural to me to celebrate and highlight such changes. Alas, such stories of the few positive things that still occur in this country don’t seem to elicit much in the way of joy on your end, at least not when I “waste” this space reporting on it. Fair enough. Without my loyal audience, I am just shouting or writing at the wind, which has no chance of changing anything, so I shall acquiesce to your desires.
Initially I was simply going to write an amazing and true story about a dog. As I reflected upon how to turn the story into a soapbox and meet your needs as my reader, I realized why this latest dog story touched me so greatly; because it is a reminder of just how much people suck. I have never denied that the more people I meet, the more I fall in love with my dogs and this story is just one more step towards my inevitable existence of someday living on an island inhabited by dogs, liquor and a few people I actually like.
As a brief reminder of my background in this arena I will offer you the following:
- I grew up with dogs of varying breeds, ranging from Yorkshire terriers to Old English Sheepdogs
- The greatest dog I ever met (who I have written about I this space before) was my mentor and friend’s dog “Hank,” a big beautiful German Shepherd who not only would’ve taken a bullet for his owner, but would have gotten up and eaten the hand that had fired the gun. (For reference, a German shepherd is the dog most commonly seen used as a police dog. Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd. Will Smith’s dog in “I am Legend” was a German shepherd. Got it)?
- I believe that Gandhi was correct when he said a society should be judged on the way it treats its’ pets. Animals are not only our most innocent asset, but they are also simply loaned to us by Nature and whoever created this whole mess of a world…and trust me, we are being tested by how we treat them.
- I own two German Shepherds.
- I am a sap when it comes to the military and all that they do for us. Nothing makes me emotional quicker than hearing about the sacrifices of people far greater than me in the name of freedom and America.
That last point has to seem out of place, but bear with me. Over the holidays the story of Lex the German shepherd emerged. At 8 years old, Lex has been serving the United States Marine Corps as a bomb sniffing dog in Iraq, one of nearly 2,000 such dogs currently deployed overseas. The American lives these dogs have saved cannot be overstated, simply by warning their fellow soldiers of the presence of road side bombs, IED’s, landmines, dormant grenades and the likes. With a little research, it is easy to discover that countless dogs (mostly German shepherds) have saved even more countless human lives in the days after 9/11.
Lex has 2 good years left in him of serving the Corps before being adopted out (usually to his human handler) to live out his final few years. In this case, Lex’s human partner was a 20 year old Corporal named Dustin who not only slept with Lex every night, he even posed for the photo for his 2006 Christmas card from Iraq with Lex, both of whom worse Santa hats. There wasn’t a 2007 card.
Early in 2007 while patrolling Fallujah, Dustin was killed by a mortar attack, one of the few things Lex couldn’t warn him of. Lex, for his part, took some shrapnel in the neck as Dustin fell to the ground dead. By all accounts of Dustin’s fellow soldiers who were there taking on the attack as well, Lex used the strength he still had to literally crawl towards Dustin, despite the metal in Lex’s neck and back and the ensuing chaos that was occurring around them of explosions and gunfire. Ultimately, Lex laid on top of Dustin, whimpering and refused to move until 2 fellow Marines literally lifted him off of Dustin and sent Lex to receive medical care. Three months later, Lex was back in service, as any great soldier would be.
The reason this whole story came out is Dustin’s family, who upon hearing the story of Lex, petitioned the Marines to allow Lex to come home early to them, a wish which was granted in Late December 2007.
While I could seemingly leave the story at this and allow you to (hopefully) bask in the glow of an amazing story of the love, loyalty and devotion of Lex, I fell there is more to be said.
While Lex simply behaved as any other Marine would have, it must be pointed out that Lex is a dog, not a person. The Armed forces are basically reserved for the greatest members of America’s society, while the rest of us are allowed to arrogantly, ignorantly take for granted everything that the military provides for us. Most people suck, those that don’t join the military.
Dogs, however, do not suck. This is why this story is such an amazing reminder of people sucking. Lex is not unique, as either a Marine, a German shepherd or a dog. Countless stories of dogs ranging from Chihuahuas, to golden retrievers to German shepherds and every breed in between showing their love and loyalty for their human handler litter the landscape of our country’s history. Dogs call 911, fight off bad guys, wake up people who are sleeping through fires, detect cancer through smell, warn of danger and protect children constantly. None of that begins to address the joy American dogs bring to the people of this nation as either pets, companions, workmates, therapists or playmates. Show me five people you know that do that. You can’t. Not without the person demanding something in return, at least.Dogs ask for nothing other than your love. In return for that love and loyalty, they watch you die and lay on you until they are forcefully removed from your body.