From Baghdad, With Love by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman

To all you softies, this is not a “dead dog” book – although there are some sad parts.  It’s Lava actually an uplifting story about how far people will go to help a cute puppy.  Lt. Col. Kopelman was serving in Baghdad when a sweep of an abandoned house in Fallujah turned up a five-week-old puppy.  Despite the fact that General Order 1-A prohibited “adopting as pets or mascots, caring for or feeding any type of domestic or wild animals,” a bunch of tough Marines adopted, fed, and cared for Lava.  Lava picked Kopelman as his special person, and Kopelman made it his mission to get the puppy to America. 

Kopelman wasn’t the only one trying to get a dog out of Baghdad, either.  Why do soldiers bond with dogs when it’s so against the rules?  Maybe pets are a reminder of home.  Or, as one of Kopelman’s contacts said when trying to get help for Lava:
here’s a man…who is in the middle of a war zone and discovered a life that needed saving and I mean, no matter how you feel about the war, in the middle of this, this horrible battle in Fallujah. . .life still matters.

Evacuating Lava was easier said than done.  Arabs generally dislike dogs, feeling they are unclean, so civilian help was pretty much unavailable.  General Order 1-A made it impossible to ask for official help.  In fact, stray dogs were sometimes ordered shot.  Rabies was a problem in Baghdad, and no airline would take on an animal without proper vaccination papers.  Who ya gonna call?

Never underestimate the ingenuity of people who love animals.  At the end of the book is a lengthy list of people who helped get Lava to the U. S., including several NPR reporters, Iams Pet Food officials, American kennels and organizations, and others.

From Baghdad includes a lot of detail about what it’s like to be in a war zone where terrorist acts are the norm instead of the exception.  The author was asked why, in the midst of all this violence and loss of life, he felt it was so important to save a puppy.  His answer?  “I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something.”

This is the only book I have ever seen advertised in Greensboro on a billboard.  Somebody else thinks it’s a special book – or maybe it’s just the adorable picture of Lava on the cover. 

(Sherrie Antonowicz, Administration)

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