So you may have heard that I'm flying over to Baghdad next week with Operation Baghdad Pups to help bring the next group of mascots home. I can't wait. Cinnamon was a mascot awaiting travel to the US at one time. Had Operation Baghdad Pups been in existence back then ('06) she would not have gone through the trauma and harrowing experience of being thrown away (7000 miles from home) like trash by the dog handler that was supposed to safely bring her home to her new family. But that's a story for another day.
My travel buddy, Charlene keeps asking if I have any questions. She had lots of them before the first time she went over. I really just want to know if I need to bring my own sleeping bag, sheets, pillow, towels and TP. What did she know about the mission she was going on that I am missing?
Whether I am ready or not, my trip starts in less than a week. I'll be leaving on Monday, February 9 at about 11 PM from JFK. There are several stops along the way, in New York, Dubai and then Kuwait before we actually get to Baghdad. I'm embarrassed to say I did not know where Dubai was until I looked on a map. Even now I'm still not so sure.
And did you know that Dubai is an Emirate? Well I didn’t know that either. Not that it would have mattered since I didn't know what an emirate was either. Well I looked it up and now I'm wondering if an emirate is more like a state, a province or a country. I do see the connection in that it is ruled by an Emir. Catchy how they came up with the term emirate. All that aside, it will take four plane rides in all to get there, four plane rides back and a total of about 80 hours of travel (about 32 actual flight) time. Whew!
ALL THAT FOR A DOG? OR CAT? Who's asking might I ask? And, I have to say that if they have to ask, then I couldn't possibly explain. And yes, there are millions of animals right here in the US that need homes. I know, I know. I get it.
But you may have heard me say it before….you can't help who you fall in love with. And these men and women in uniform have sacrificed for our country and for our freedoms. And they have found comfort in and fallen in love with these mascots. It would be cruel and wrong to expect the soldiers to leave the pups and kitties behind when they all have come to rely on each other for their very survival. Call me melodramatic.
So yes, I am bringing home 3 pups and 1 kitty for our troops. And in case you know someone who was asking "All that for a dog?", pass this along to them. It goes for kitties, too.
From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog,"
or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog."
They don't understand the distance traveled,
the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."
Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been
brought about by "just a dog,"
and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog"
gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand
phrases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."
"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust,
and pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion
and patience that make me a better person.
Because of "just a dog", I will rise early,
take long walks and look longingly to the future.
So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams
of the future, the fond memories of the past,
and the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts
my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog",
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
"just a man or woman."
So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog"
because they "just don't understand."
by Richard Biby
Contributing Editor VHD
From "The Versatile Hunting Dog"
Next time, "Have you met my special cargo?"