This is to be a story of a dog. In fact this will turn in to a story of two dogs. One of which almost lost its life by my hands. Now let me make sure and tell you that I am truely an animal lover. The one thing I have missed more than anything being in the military as a single soldier, is the fact that while living in the barracks I was not able to have ANY pet, even something like a fish. Shoot I don't even think I could have a live plant. As a kid, when Id go out playing with my BB gun, I could never bring myself to shoot even a bird or a squirel. The one time I almost did, I lined it up in my sights and at the last second I raised my rifle and fired just above it. How ironic the first life I removed from this planet was that of another human bieng? But anyways, back on track here. Here goes the story.
The story of these two dogs would not exist without the story of one dog. That probably makes no sense right now, but I will explain, trust me. I might have mentioned it before, but we have a dog that stays at our combat outpost. A few months ago my old squad was out on patrol at night and this cute little black and white puppy began following them. They didn't pay much attention to it at first, but he kept following them and, well, he was just so damn cute. They brought him back that night. I was on guard shift and happen to be sitting on the desk inside when they brought the little guy in.
He was pathetic looking. He couldn't have been more than a couple weeks old and looked like he could have died any minute. But he was SO cute. They gave him a couple baths to clean him up and tried to get him to drink as much clean water that he could. They had him wrapped in a blanket and left him at the desk I was at. He was throughly exhausted and his body was so hot. He was shivering while he slept and honestly from the looks of it I didn't think he was going to live for more than a few days. Even after the bath he still had fleas so one of they guys went and dipped him in JP8 (Diesel Fuel). We thought this was crazy, but it worked and he was flea free. As the only appropriate name for a dog for guys of Charlie Company was, Charlie.
As the days went by Charlie began doing much better. He slowly began eating MRE's and as time went on he began filling out. He became more active and he was even cuter than before. He was the center of attention and got everyones affection. This is where me and Charlie truely began to bond, especially after the first time I did my best to comfort him and keep him warm. I really started getting attached to him and I began thinking about him and his life after we leave. Nothing good...
After we rotated out of there the other platoons that would rotate in would take care of him just as well and by the time we were there again he had grown so much and he was acting like the normal energetic puppy you'd expect to see. We used to keep him inside and we'd take him out to pee and poop and up on the roof and to the guard towers to get outside some. Well one day our Battalion Command Sergeant Major (CSM) told us that he was not to be allowed inside and we technically shouldn't even have him at all. So from that point forward, he became an outdoor dog, living downstairs in the courtyard area of the compound. This did nothing to stop the attention and affection he would recieve from all of us, and now gave him a lot of room to run around and play.
Time continued to pass and he grew and grew, learned to bark and bite and all the typical puppy stuff. Everytime we'd come back to a new rotation he seem so much bigger. I remeber the first time I came back this one time and he remembered me and he came hauling ass towards me! I was shocked because I'd never see him really run before and it caught me off guard. I knew I was totally attached to this dog now and it was horrible thinking about having to leave him behind. The Iraqi's dont have dogs as pets here. There are dogs everywhere, but they are all wild. They roam the streets in packs and somehow manage to live, but are nothing like the 'dog' that Americans are used to. Generation after generation they learn to survive on their on, a natural existance in an unnatural world.
For this reason Iraqi's view dogs as wild animals with diseases and are either afraid of them or hate them. This attitude carried over to Charlie, even though he was obviously domesticated. They were afraid of them, and some obviously abused him. They would chase him and kick him. Anytime we'd catch them we'd yell at them and be on the verge of kicking their asses. But this attitude of theirs is why, to this day, Charlie does not like Iraqi's. It doesn't matter if its Iraqi police, Army or even our interperators, he barks at them like crazy and acts all tough. I don't even bother trying to stop him anymore. The thing is, if we leave, his life is in their hands.
Charlie has now grown in to what I'd say is almost a dog. He's still a puppy in many ways; his puppy bark, his constant need to chew on things, his enless supply of puppy energy. But he's grown ALOT and he's really starting to look like a dog, and not so much a puppy anymore. He normally finds trash or water bottles to chew on so one day I decided to pay an Iraqi to get me a bunch of cow bones, and now he has some real bones to chew on. Any chance I get I spend down with him, and despite what some may think, I let him like me and crawl all over me. We've totally bonded and it's awesome. I decided there has got to be a way to get him out of Iraq and after reading a book about a Marine and getting a dog to the states called "From Baghdad with Love", I learned of an organization called Military Mascots which specilizes in just that. I've sent them a couple emails, but have yet to hear anything back. We still have time, but I hope they contact me soon. I want to secure him a way to the land of the free, to give him an opportunity to enjoy his life to the fullest. I'd love to see his reaction to a giant field of green grass for the first time! So hopefully we can make this happen. I don't quite know what it will take, or even if we can do what we need to, but its worth a try.
OK, so now that I've told you about Charlie, let me tell you about this demon dog. It was a few days ago and I was to be on guard down with the trucks outside. I like this spot, even though its hot and sucks being outside during the day, because I get to spend a lot of time with Charlie. Well the guy on shift before me told me that there was some stray dog underneath one of the trucks. We joked around saying Charlie was finally going to get some ass, or that it was his long lost mom coming to find him, but once I saw her it was obvious that it wasn't. I dont know how or why this dog came in here, but there it was chilling under a Humvee. One of the squad leaders decided to have this guy move the truck in hopes of getting the dog to run out and hopefully away. Well, the dog came out, but it went after the squad leader and tried to bite him. The kicked the dog and it scurried off somewhere else, but not away.
I was a little concerned because Charlie has not had any shots and Id hate for him to get bit by a diseased dog and get rabbies. I wanted this dog to leave, but Charlie had no fear as was all up in the other dogs face barking away like Mr. Toughguy. I have to give him credit for trying. The dog ended up finding a spot in this one lounge chair and we were trying to get it to leave, but it wasn't having it. I even went so far as to grab this metal sign frame and was pushing its head around. Nothing other than a quick snap at me for a reaction. We were in the process of getting some more people to help get it out when it hopped up and ran around this side of the building with no escape. It was back behind these metal lockers and I came up with, what I though at the time to be, a genious idea. I grabbed this broom and went up behind the lockers. I was going to hit the lockers really hard, scare the dog and it would come running out and hopefully away. Charlie decided to go with me, unafraid and continued his barking. Well, I hit the locker with the broom handle, and as expected it scared the dog and it came running out.
What I neglected to factor in was the possibility of what happened next. Since Charlie was basically blocking the way, the dog ran in to Charlie stopping it from flying past me. Once it stopped, it looked at me and immediately knew I was the cause of all its problems and got this look on its face that only a true rabbies infested, ravenous demon dog could have. It snarled its black dirty teeth as white foam seeped out its mouth and it took all its hate and agression out on me as it lunged at me. I was paniced at this point, no longer fearing for Charlie and him getting infested, but now the thought of getting bit by this infected dog. My first reaction was to quickly kick the dog in the head. This stopped the attack and for a second I though the dog was done. But nope, it shook that off, looked at me again with even more hate and lunged again. At this point I was already starting to make my way away so I tried a new approach, not wanting to miss the dog and having to be so close to kick it. I took the broom handled and swung hard making contact this time with the top of this dogs head.
Again, another unexpected reaction took place. After being pelted in the head, this dog somehow latches on to the broom handle with its rabbid mouth and begins growling and snarling like Lucifer himself posses this dog. After a couple quick tugs in attempt to retrieve my self-defense stick back I say fuck it and begin to break contact running, well somewhere, anywhere away from this devilish dog. I took a quick glance back and sure enough the dog is in pursuit. I quickened my pace thinking it was only a matter or time until this dog caught up with me so the first thing I saw to get away was to get on top of the hood of a nearby Humvee. I escape, but the dog proceedes to go chill under this Humvee. Theres other people around, now at this point laughing their asses off, but does the dog attack them?? NO!!
I'm pissed at this point, and I tell this guy to give me the radio and I then call up that theres going to be a couple shots fired but for no one to be alarmed. This dog was going to die, and preferable by my hands, or should I say gun. My squad leader, who knew about the dog, immediately tells me not to shoot the dog. God damnit. Well, I won't now, but if this thing comes at me again you can sure as hell bet I'm going to pump this dogs body full of 5.56mm lead.
After a couple minutes of the dog not showing its face, I decided to get down to get said rifle. Wouldn't you know the second my boots touch the ground, Satan himself comes lunging out again at me and I'm forced to immediately climb this sandbag wall just a few feet away. Now I'm feeling like an ass and the thought of ending this dog's life is become sweeter and sweeter to me. Well, I dont know what or why what happened next did, but I'm guessing maybe the dog sensed trouble and called it quits. On its own, it decided to run back out the entrance and all the way out in to the street and just like that, this whole ordeal was over. Holy shit!
I figured that would be the last time I had to see this dog, but sure as shit that night we ended up going out to do something and as we turned on this road just outside our outpost I hear a couple dogs barking away, like all dogs do to us in Iraq. Well just as I'm passing them, one of them stops barking and just begins staring at me. I take a closer look, and sure as shit its that damn dog, and I would swear it was deciding wheter or not to come after me. I began waving my arms and pointing to the guys on my team, since I have to be tactically ya know, its nighttime. I don't know if they knew what I was getting at, but me as well as that dog knew. I had my rifle read and trained in case it decided to act on its thoughts, but fortunately it never did. Hopefully that will be the last time we ever come face to face.