Dogs Are Good For People

First, my mom wants you all to know, she does NOT watch a lot of television. She does have a television but she also has a DVR. So she skips through everything: she goes through Good Morning America in about 15 minutes, watching just the segments she likes: skip the music and the weather, she says, and the ridiculous shots of millionaire anchor staff shivering on the plaza.

She actually told Comcast, “Take back the Cable!” But they offered her a deal she couldn’t refuse.

That’s why she’s sitting on the edge of the couch today, watching the WNBA Finals and keeping her fingers crossed for the Phooenix Mercury. My mom Cathy has been a fan of Diana Taurasi ever since she saw Taurasi as a college freshman take her first 3-point shot. My mom likes people who color outside the lines. I can’t imagine why.

But I digress…Mom was watching book reviews on CSPAN-2 when she heard a totally moving story by Heidi Kraft, author of Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in an Iraq Combat Hospital.

Kraft, a Navy psychologist, served in a Marine hospital. She befriended an Army veterinarian who was assigned to treat the K-9 Corps. He would invite Kraft to visit the sociable dogs as a stress relief break.

One of Kraft’s human patients was a female Marine Sergeant. This woman was the only female in an all-male unit, she was in a war zone and she was clinically depressed. Working with the MDs, Kraft arranged for medication as well as counseling. Then for two months, the sergeant was too busy to come by.

Then one day, the sergeant showed up in Kraft’s office, looking much happier. She even wore make-up!

What happened? This sergeant’s unit had adopted a stray dog. She bonded with the dog. She arranged to send the dog home, where her family will keep the dog till she can arrive in her next duty station, San Diego.

Now, said the sergeant, she has something to look forward to. That dog needs her! And the sergeant has applied for a transfer to the US Marine Corps K-9 unit.

When my mom Cathy says (for the ninetieth time), “Gracie, you are driving me nuts!” or even, “Gracie, you are a nuisance!” I just give her The Look. She needs me.

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