Friday, July 16, 2010

Murphy & The Soldiers

My therapy dog, Murphy and I walked through the automatic doors, exiting the veteran's hospital. Several middle-aged men had gathered just past the "no smoking beyond this point" sign. Some were in wheelchairs. Spotting Murphy, smiles erupted on those soldier's faces. We stopped to say hello. Murphy is a big lovable chocolate Lab, who, at five years still has the joy of a puppy in him. When he looks up and smiles at you, it's all over. As we moved closer, hands reached out to pet him. They talked to him: "How you doin', fella?" "Thanks for coming here today." "I had a Lab once ..." There was laughter and high fives (with Murph) and stories about dogs past and present. Someone asked who we had visited that day. "Guys in polytrauma," I answered. "What's that?" one of them asked. "Head injury," another answered. Sadness swept over the group - all of whom had been severely injured in combat in one war or another. "So young. Just kids," one of them said. Silence. Then Murphy nudged one of them with his nose. Private thoughts were washed away when they once again focused on my dog. After a few minutes, we reluctantly said our goodbyes. I thanked them for their service to our country. They thanked me and Murph for our visit. In the car, Murphy slept. My thoughts ran to sacrifice and broken bodies and lives cut short. And heroes.

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