~~~The Throw Before The Toss~~~
By Buk Bukowski
Thanksgiving…a day of family gatherings, turkey, football, drink, and desserts. The gateway to holiday shopping with Black Friday as its worm hole. But wait, many stores will open their doors on Thursday. And just like that…even Thanksgiving Day is at risk of extinction.
No, this article is not about the demise of the one day many take the time to slow down and thank God for his gracious gifts of food, water, family, and friends. Although, truth be-told, Thanksgiving was originally not intended for football and shopping. Thanksgiving was a day set aside to give thanks for our blessings, unity, and peace. I’m writing this to recognize one of God’s most unique gifts to mankind. Of the four gifts mentioned above, this is about friends…more specifically, our animal friends.
Friendship is a relationship characterized by loyalty and mutual support. Is there a greater loyalty than that of a rescued animal? Jay Kopelman ( Author of ‘From Baghdad With Love’) tells the story of his dog Lava. Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman was a Marine stationed in Iraq (2004). During a fire fight his men heard a yelping sound coming from an empty drum in the middle of the action. What they found was an abandoned puppy left to die in the middle of war. One of the Marines rescued the dog by placing Lava (named after the company’s ‘Lava Dogs nickname) in his flak vest and made his way to safety. Afterward, they took the dog back to camp and raised it as their own. He said Lava became a symbol of home and hope to the Marines. They would go out into harm’s way and return to the one thing that reminded them of the friendly confines of their homes in America…an excited dog ready to greet them when they walked in the door. Lava was there when these Marines needed a sense of sanity in an insane world. Kopelman made a promise to his men to get the dog out of war zone. He did, and Lava now lives with the Kopelman family in California.
What struck me about the colonel’s story are the little things we take for granted each day. In this case, a dog, who gave these war-hardened Marines something that they probably didn’t expect in a war zone…unconditional love. Kopelman firmly believes the dog understood his fate in that barrel and thus was honestly and forever grateful to the Marines that gave him a second chance. Basically this second chance is offered daily at Humane Societies and animal shelters across our country. For those of us who have rescued an animal we fully understand what Kopelman is talking about. For those that haven’t…what are you waiting for!? If Marines risked their lives to save Lava…why not go down to the Humane Society or shelter and save one or two? There is a risk however. Even the hardest of hearts have been softened and you might find yourself adopting two.
I heard Ghandi’s quote twice at the Airmen for the Animals event and it bears repeating here. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Giving thanks is more than just a phrase. The amount of unwanted, neglected, abused, or lost animals is staggering. If you open your heart and save one of these animals I promise you will know the gift of unconditional love…and the love, attention, and joy that you receive will be 2 – 3 fold the amount you give to a rescued animal. They know…they truly know that they have been given a second chance.
I am truly thankful for all those that work to save the animals of this crazy world. From the Marines in Fallujah, to workers and volunteers at the Humane Societies and shelters across our country…Thank you. So when you sit down this Thanksgiving Day and thank God for all he’s given our country, say a special thank you for the furry friend sitting underneath your dining room chair and slip your friend some turkey. It’s ok…the Holiday Season is here.