I realize that it is unlikely that any person who reads my blog might also read Men's Health magazine, but there does happen to be a great article in the October 2011 issue. They did a piece on the therapy dog program at my husband's unit. Because this program is new (my husband's got the only one), it is controversial (bureaucracies do not like new things). But these dogs really seem to make a difference to some soldier's mental health and overall ability to cope with life.
Much of the controversies have come from potential violations of regulations: pets are not allowed in barracks, only service dogs are permitted in buildings, working dogs (K-9) must be kenneled in certain ways, etc. Therapy dogs are not exactly service dogs (like seeing-eye dogs) and they're definitely not K-9, trained to sniff out drugs or guns or attack fleeing bad guys. There have been growing pains as the unit has had to help define what a therapy dog is and how the dogs may live and work on post.
The Men's Health article doesn't talk about any of these issues. It talks about the soldiers and how the dogs make them feel, how the dogs have improved their lives, calmed their nerves, soothed their tempers, and given them something outside of themselves to think about. It's an interesting read, and I hope that subscribers will come away with a greater appreciation of what some people suffer in the name of Freedom.
On a completely personal note, the article is a great keepsake for our family. First of all, there a chest-up photo of my husband that takes up almost the entire page. It's nicely photo-shopped to remove any blemishes and add in a vague stubble, I guess for artistic purposes. Secondly, Bill is quoted several times, and his quotes are added in twice on the 8 page article as a highlighted blurb.
And lastly, and best of all, my husband, my husband, is described as "a buff, hard-bitten combat veteran" which sounds so very cool. I had no idea I was married to Rambo. I am so thrilled to be wed to such a walking example of testosterone-laden heroism. Ladies, feel free to drool over my husband's picture, but remember, he's all mine.
I plan to take this article to a frame shop and have it mounted in some way. It will hang on the wall of our home, and our daughters' boyfriends will read it and know they can never compare (and hopefully worry about what Daddy might do to them if they break his little girls' hearts). Eventually, our grandchildren will read it and say to each other, "Wow! Grandpa served in Afghanistan. He must have been a really tough guy. See, it says so right here."
And the myth will grow. And I'm ok with that.