Blossom Valley Kennel
Good Reading

"In order to really enjoy a dog, 
one doesn't merely try to train 
him to be semi-human. The point 
of it is to open oneself to the 
possibility of becoming partly a dog." 

- Edward Hoagland -

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"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress 
can be judged by the way its animals are treated." 

- Mohandas Gandhi (1869 - 1948) -

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"If a man aspires toward a righteous life, 
his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals." 

- Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910) -

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"A thinking man feels compelled to approach 
all life with the same reverence he has for his own." 

- Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965) -

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"Not the least hard thing to bear when 
they go from us, these quiet friends, 
is that they carry away with them so 
many years of our lives. Yet, if they 
find warmth therein, who would 
begrudge them those years that they 
have so guarded? 
And whatever they take, 
be sure they have deserved." 

- John Galsworthy -

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"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures 
is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. 
That's the essence of inhumanity." 

- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) -

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"Dogs are our link to paradise... 
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon 
is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - 
it was peace."

- Milan Kundera -

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"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures 
from the shelter of compassion and pity, 
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men." 

- Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 - 1226) -

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"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, 
which is the goal of all evolution. 
Until we stop harming all other living beings, 
we are still savages." 

- Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) -

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"We can not have peace among men 
whose hearts find delight 
in killing any living creature" 

- Rachel Carson -

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"We did not weave the web of life; 
we are merely a strand in it. 
Whatever we do to the web, 
we do to ourselves. 
All things connect." 

- Chief Seattle -

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"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. 
That is the way of the whole human being." 

- Abraham Lincoln -

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"I am sometimes asked 
"Why do you spent so much of your time and money 
talking about kindness to animals 
when there is so much cruelty to men?" 
I answer: "I am working at the roots." 

- George T. Angell -

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"The love of animals, like the love of our neighbor, 
is not a gift to be condescendingly bestowed, 
but a profound and humble acceptance of their kinship." 

-  Robert R. Logan -

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"We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, 
and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly 
that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, 
they would depict the devil in human form." 

- William Ralph Inage -

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"All beings tremble before violence. 
All fear death, all love life. 
See yourself in others. 
Then whom can you hurt? 
What harm can you do?" 

- Buddha -

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"The soul is the same in all living creatures, 
although the body of each is different." 

- Hippocrates -

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"As we talked of freedom and justice one day for all, 
we sat down to steaks. 
I am eating misery, I thought, as I took the first bite. 
And spit it out." 

- Alice Walker -

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"You have just dined, 
and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed 
in the graceful distance of miles, 
there is complicity." 

- Ralph Waldo Emerson -

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Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. 
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, 
that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. 
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends 
so they can run and play together. 
There is plenty of food,water and sunshine and 
our friends are warm and comfortable. 
All the animals who had been ill and old 
are restored to health and vigor; 
those who were hurt or maimed 
are made whole and strong again, 
just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. 
The animals are happy and content, 
except for one small thing: 
they each miss someone very special, 
someone who was left behind. 
They all run and play together, 
but the day comes when one suddenly stops 
and looks into the distance. 
His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. 
Suddenly, he breaks from the group, 
flying over the green grass, faster and faster. 
You have been spotted, 
and when you and your special friend finally meet, 
you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. 
The happy kisses rain upon your face; 
your hands again caress the beloved head, 
and you look once more into those trusting eyes, 
so long gone from your life, 
but never absent from your heart. 

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together... 

- Paul C. Dahm -

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When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey - 
a journey that will bring you more love and devotion 
than you have ever known, 
yet also test your strength and courage. 

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, 
about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. 
You will come away changed forever, 
for one soul cannot touch another 
without leaving its mark. 

Along the way, you will learn much 
about savoring life's simple pleasures - 
jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, 
and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears. 

If you spend much time outside, 
you will be taught how to truly experience every element, 
for no rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, 
no rustling bush will be overlooked, 
and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, 
and noted as being full of valuable information. 
Your pace may be slower - 
except when heading home to the food dish - 
but you will become a better naturalist, 
having been taught by an expert in the field. 

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, 
our goal being to complete the trail 
rather than enjoy the journey. 
We miss the details - 
the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, 
the honeycomb in the old maple snag, 
the hawk feather caught on a twig. 

Once we walk as a dog does, 
we discover a whole new world. 
We stop; 
we browse the landscape, 
we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. 
And we learn what any dog knows: 
that nature has created a marvelously complex world 
that is full of surprises, 
that each cycle of the seasons 
bring ever changing wonders, 
each day an essence all its own. 

Even from indoors 
you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. 
You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting 
on a screen (how bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!), 
or noting the flick and flash of fireflies through the dark. 
You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, 
or sniff the air after a rain. 
It does not matter that there is no objective in this; 
the point is in the doing, 
in not letting life's most important details slip by. 

You will find yourself doing silly things 
that your pet-less friends might not understand: 
spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle 
looking for the cat food brand your feline must have, 
buying dog birthday treats, or 
driving around the block an extra time 
because your pet enjoys the ride. 
You will roll in the snow, 
wrestle with chewie toys, 
bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, 
and even run around the house 
trailing your bathrobe tie - 
with a cat in hot pursuit - 
all in the name of love. 

Your house will become muddier and hairier. 
You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. 
You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, 
and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag 
adorns your living room rug 
because your cat loves the crinkly sound. 

You will learn the true measure of love - 
the steadfast, undying kind that says, 
"It doesn't matter where we are or what we do, 
or how life treats us as long as we are together." 
Respect this always. 
It is the most precious lift any living soul can give another. 
You will not find it often among the human race. 

And you will learn humility. 
The look in my dog's eyes often made me feel ashamed. 
Such joy and love at my presence. 
She saw not some flawed human 
who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, 
but only her wonderful companion. 
Or maybe she saw those things 
and dismissed them as mere human foibles, 
not worth considering, 
and so chose to love me anyway. 

If you pay attention and learn well, 
when the journey is done, 
you will be not just a better person, 
but the person your pet always knew you to be - 
the one they were proud to call beloved friend. 

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. 
Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. 
For as surely as the sun sets, 
one day your dear animal companion 
will follow a trail you cannot yet go down. 
And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. 

A pet's time on earth is far too short - 
especially for those that love them. 
We borrow them, really, just for awhile, 
and during these brief years 
they are generous enough to give us all their love, 
every inch of their spirit and heart, 
until one day there is nothing left. 

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten 
is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. 
The young pup of boundless energy 
wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. 
Deep down we somehow always knew 
that this journey would end. 
We knew that if we gave our hearts 
they would be broken. 

But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. 
When the time comes, 
and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, 
we give one final gift and let them run on ahead - 
young and whole once more. 
"Godspeed, good friend," we say, 
until our journey comes full circle 
and our paths cross again.

- by Crystal Ward Kent -

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Treat me kindly, my beloved master, 
for no heart in all the world is more grateful 
for kindness than the loving heart of me. 

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though 
I should lick your hand between the blows, 
your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me 
the things you would have me do. 

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, 
as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail 
when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear. 

When it is cold and wet, please take me inside... 
for I am now a domesticated animal, 
no longer used to bitter elements... 
and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of 
sitting at your feet beside the hearth... 
though had you no home, 
I would rather follow you through ice and snow 
than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land... 
for you are my god... and I am your devoted worshiper. 

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, 
for although I should not reproach you were it dry, 
I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. 
Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, 
to romp and play and do your bidding, 
to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able 
to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger. 

And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit 
to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. 
Rather hold me gently in your arms 
as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest...
and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, 
my fate was ever safest in your hands. 

- Beth Norman Harris -

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When I was a puppy, 
I entertained you with my antics 
and made you laugh. 
You called me your child, 
and despite a number of chewed shoes 
and a couple of murdered throw pillows, 
I became your best friend. 

Whenever I was "bad", 
you'd shake your finger at me and ask, "How could you?" -- 
but then you'd relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected 
because you were terribly busy, 
but we worked on that together. 
I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed 
and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, 
and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.

We went for long walks and runs in the park, 
car rides, stops for ice cream 
(I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs", you said), 
and I took long naps in the sun 
waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work 
and on your career, 
and more time searching for a human mate. 
I waited for you patiently, 
comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, 
never chided you about bad decisions, 
and romped with glee at your homecomings, 
and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- 
still I welcomed her into our home, 
tried to show her affection, 
and obeyed her. 

I was happy because you were happy. 
Then the human babies came along 
and I shared your excitement. 
I was fascinated by their pinkness, 
how they smelled, 
and I wanted to mother them, too. 

Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, 
and I spent most of my time banished to another room, 
or to a dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them, 
but I became a "prisoner of love". 
As they began to grow, I became their friend. 
They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, 
poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, 
and gave me kisses on my nose. 

I loved everything about them and their touch -- 
because your touch was now so infrequent -- 
and I would've defended them with my life if need me. 
I would sneak into their beds 
and listen to their worries and secret dreams 
and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, 
that you produced a photo of me from your wallet 
and told them stories about me. 
These past few years, you just answered, "yes" 
and changed the subject. 
I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog", 
and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. 

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, 
and you and they will be moving to an apartment 
that does not allow pets. 
You've made the right decision for your "family", 
but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride 
until we arrived at the animal shelter. 
It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. 

You filled out the paperwork and said, 
"I know you will find a good home for her." 
They shrugged and gave you a painted look. 
They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog,
even one with "papers". 

You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar 
as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" 
And I worried for him, 
and what lessons you had just taught him 
about friendship and loyalty, 
about love and responsibility, and 
about respect for all life.

You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, 
and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. 
You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. 

After you left, the two nice ladies said 
you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago 
and made no attempt to find me another good home. 
They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter 
as their busy schedules allow. 
They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. 

At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, 
I rushed to the front, hoping it was you 
that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream . . . 
or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, 
anyone who might save me. 

When I realized I could not compete 
with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, 
oblivious to their own fate, 
I retreated to a far corner and waited. 

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, 
and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. 
A blissfully quiet room. 
She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. 

My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, 
but there was also a sense of relief. 
The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. 
The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, 
and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. 

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg 
as a tear ran down her cheek. 
I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you 
so many years ago. 

She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. 
As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, 
I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes 
and murmured, "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said, "I'm so sorry." 
She hugged me, and hurriedly explained 
it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, 
where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, 
or have to fend for myself -- 
a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. 

And with my last bit of energy, 
I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail 
that my "How could you?" was not directed at her.

It was directed at you, My Beloved Master; I was thinking of you. 
I will think of you and wait for you forever. 
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty. 

- Jim Willis, 2001 -

A note from the author:
If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, 
as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story 
of the millions of formerly owned pets who die each year in America's shelters. 
Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a non-commercial purpose, 
as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. 
Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, 
on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. 
I appreciate receiving copies of newsletters which reprint "How Could You?" 
or "The Animals' Savior," sent to me at the last postal address below. 
Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, 
that animals deserve our love and sensible care, 
that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility 
and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. 

Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage 
all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals. 
If you are a member of an animal welfare organization, 
I encourage you to participate in the Spay/Neuter Billboard Campaign from ISAR (International Society for Animal Rights); 
for more information, please visit: 
Thank you, 
Jim Willis, 

Director, The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust, 
accredited member of The American Sanctuary Association, 
and Program Coordinator, International Society for Animal Rights 

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I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
"It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea, 
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore. 
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you, that I'm not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key. 
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "it's me."

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.

It's possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew ... 
in the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over... I smile and watch you yawning
and say "goodnight, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide, 
I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see. 
Be patient, live your journey out ... then come home to be with me.

- Author unknown -

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Here is a story from a Jack Russell Terrier forum, sent by Pat Dugan who wrote:  Some of you asked about the story of "Brown Dog" and here it is as delivered. I know the topic has nothing to do with our beloved JRT's but some of you might enjoy it. I hope that you don't mind me posting this and the use of some politically incorrect terms that would never be used today. Our world has changed, but the Marines who lived it haven't and we are not sorry.
Semper Fidelis,
Pat and Cpl. J.R. Dugan USMC

The year was 1966 and I was a newly assigned machine gunner in an infantry unit that was protecting a high mountain pass that was between Da Nang and Phu Bai, Vietnam. The pass is called Hai Van Pass, which means "Place of the Clouds." It is located 30 km north of Da Nang. The Marine Corps name of the hill that my unit was on was Hill 724. It was a dangerous and treacherous area that was of high strategic value. There was only one narrow highway that wound up steep cliffs (Highway 1) that reached the peak at Hai Van. At the base of the hill was a small village called Namo. My story starts in that village.

On a patrol through the village, my squad noticed a small wooden cage outside of a hooch. We were new to Vietnam and unaware of the customs of the people. We were always alert for booby traps and we moved closer to the cage. Inside the cage was a small, brown puppy that brightened up when he saw us approach his cage. He began wagging his tail and wanting to be held. It was love at first sight for all of us. Don't tell anybody, but most Marines are real softies when it comes to animals. The owner of the hooch came out and I decided to offer to buy his puppy. I just didn't like his living conditions. The old villager started his trying to up the price and after much debate, he decided on a price. He then pulled out a sharp knife and proceeded to open the cage. 

All of us were shocked that he pulled a knife out and we all raised our weapons to him. He looked very frightened and assured us that he meant us no harm. He explained in gestures that he was just going to prepare the dog for us. We were confused and then he made the motion of drawing his knife across his neck to tell us that he was going to kill the dog and dress it out for us to "Chop-Chop." I can only tell you that the anger level went up 100 notches at that suggestion. We then realized that the dog was being raised to eat by the villager. I unbuttoned my flak jacket and reached in and took the dog from his hands. I threw the money on the ground and placed the pup next to my heart so I could carry him up the long torturous climb back to our base camp.

The first event that happened was all of us knew that it was going to be a challenge to get our superiors to allow us to keep him. It was a miserable walk back to our hill. Our fears were baseless because we had a wonderful Captain, named Capt. Silva, and he allowed us to keep the puppy as a mascot. We loved him before, but we really loved the Captain after that. Next we had the heated debate on what the dog's name should be. It was not an easy process since marines are very bull-headed and strong willed. After much serious and highly intelligent discussion we arrived at the unique name of "Brown Dog." You have to know Marines to appreciate this.

Brown Dog was the darling of the hill and only one Marine hated him and that was OK, because we all hated him too. We all decided that if Brown Dog didn't like him that there had to be a damn good reason. Later he proved to be a coward in combat and was removed from our hill before he had an "Accident." Brown Dog was very happy that he left. I lost a stripe because I caught this guy kicking at Brown Dog and I explained to him not to do that again. I explained a little too harsh and the 1st Sgt. explained to me the error of my ways.

Brown Dog had a ritual of his life on the hill. At night we were in bunkers staring out into a dark, fog filled jungle. We were issued Seismic Listening Devices which consisted of probes planted in the ground in front of our bunkers. We had a small console inside that had earphones. We could hear footsteps approaching or animals moving. We got pretty good with the device. Brown Dog would make the perimeter of our positions and visit every bunker to check on "His" marines. He was always a welcome visitor and he spent all of his non patrolling time in his daddy's bunker, MINE! LOL He also went on patrols with us and had an intense hatred for the Vietnamese. He would growl and really act up when he would see or smell one. 

On April 1, 1967, we were dug in and the fog was pea soup thick that night. I was in the machine gun bunker and we were really spooked. About 3 am Brown dog shot up and went on full alert. I rang the field phone and informed the Command bunker that Brown Dog had alerted. Our Lt., ( Naval Academy IDIOT) advised me to trust my Seismic Device and not a damn dog! 

My bunker was the forward bunker and the most vulnerable. I looked at my machine gun crew and whispered that I was going to disobey the Lt.'s stupid order. They all nodded as I prepared the pop-up flare to shoot into the sky. I popped the flare and Lo and Behold we had Beaucoup Gooks in the wire! All hell broke lose and it was a very violent battle that night. It was up close and personal fighting and many people on both sides were killed and wounded. Brown Dog was hit by shrapnel but continued to fight the enemy. I saw him attack the leg of a NVA before he was zapped. 

The attack failed and for what seemed like an eternity, we waited for the sun to come up. There were dead people in the wire, burning, and moaning out in pain in the darkness. I held Brown Dog in my arms and awaited the medivac helicopters that were coming to help our wounded. I really thought Brown Dog was going to die in my arms. 

When the choppers came I handed my baby to the door gunner and asked him to get him medical help and told him that we would all be dead if it wasn't for Brown Dog. Marine to Marine, he gave me his word and I watched the dust-off. My Capt. pulled me aside and told me that he was glad that I never followed orders. He rubbed my head and told me that he was going to call to headquarters and tell them the story and he ASSURED me that Brown Dog was going to get the best of care.

Brown Dog had lost a lot of blood so I really didn't have much hope. The next day we received word that Brown Dog had been taken to Army Vets and they had saved his life. He had over 100 stitches, needed blood and antibiotics but he was going to live. He was the hero to all of us. He received a canine award for heroism and we promoted him to Cpl. I also got my stripe back much to the chagrin of the Lt.  

Cpl. Brown Dog returned to a hero's welcome as we had a full formation to welcome him home. I left the hill June 9th, 1967 and he was in very good hands with the Marines on the hill. I tried to take him home but that was impossible. I really hurt having to leave him on the hill, but I knew the Marines would take excellent care of him.

I have always thought it was so ironic that once he was going to be eaten by the Vietnamese and in turn he caused the death of so damn many of them!

All of my friends still have his picture and we all know that we would not be here today if it were not for a little, mixed breed dog named Brown Dog. He will be in our hearts until we die and a part of our souls forever. 

When we assemble for our reunions, we always toast Brown Dog.

"Rest in peace little Warrior and wait for "Your" Marines to join you. We will always be Semper Fidelis to you and your memory. " Salud and three cheers for the finest Marine on our hill! Ooo-Rah Brown Dog! 

Cpl. Charles Patrick Dugan
2164539 USMC
Vietnam 1966-1967
Machine Gunner - Infantry

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All rights reserved.  Copyright 2002-2023 by Annette Gilliam, Esq.

Updated 7/13/2023