March 23, 2011
Dogs of War: The Bond Between Soldiers and Stray Canines in Afghanistan
By Chad Love
"No one can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes." —Gene Hill
I doubt we'll ever know, in any clinical or scientific sense, what draws us to dogs so fiercely; what compels us to seek out their companionship, even in the most harrowing of circumstances. But we do. Because no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad things might get, the presence of a dog somehow makes things seem a little better. A scratch behind the ear, the wag of a tail, a warm body curled up at your feet; pharmaceutical companies would pay any price to synthesize how that makes us feel. But of course you can't just manufacture that kind of emotion and stuff it in a pill. It comes from a place pharmacology can't yet touch. That's why half a world away, in a place of constant death and misery, our soldiers still seek out dogs.
Here is a fascinating and poignant New York Times video about the bond between American soldiers in Afghanistan and the stray dogs they adopt.
They're living in a war zone, with every facet of life cut to the bare minimum, every day another walk on the ragged edge. And yet a dog is right there walking it beside them. If that's not a reason to love your dog even more I don't know what is.