Riley "Blues Boy" King was away from home when his 2-year-old Maltese, Lucille, vanished from the back yard. He has posted 500 flyers, checked with all the local shelters, and offered one of his autographed guitars as a reward. I was blessed with the friendship of a Maltese for 16 years, and will testify that the comic-book cuteness hides the heart of a lion. They are one of the oldest breeds in the world, with dogs like "Issa" memorialized by Roman generals and poets:
“Issa is as sweet as a maiden’s kiss,
As frolicksome as Catullus’ sparrow.
Before she went down into the dark forever,
Her master ordered that her likeness be painted...”
They are known for their remarkable empathy towards changes in mood. Mine could shift in an instant from the perfect writer's dog, a patient silky presence stretched tight against one leg for hours at a time, then a clown in moments of despair, then bossing the bigger dogs by climbing onto something until her chin was taller than their neck, then running alongside me for an hour on the beach, five times a week, traveling twice as far because of her doggy side excursions on very short legs. She kept this up until her very last year, when she would sit down on the way home and be carried the rest of the way on my shoulders.
On such a week as this there can be no doubt that any one animal is more “humane” than any five humans, and an 80 year old man who has done nothing but bring pleasure at midnight and solace in sorrow to millions of people certainly deserves to have his dog back. Please keep your eyes and hearts open and remember to include a prayer to bring Lucille back home to B.B. King.
These thoughts take on new urgency with this news of Army Captain John Smathers, an attorney from Maryland, who adopted an Iraqui dog he named "Scout", and then struggled for a year to bring him home to the states:
"He was very vulnerable but he put on a front like he was a tough guy, which is probably how a lot of soldiers feel. I was about to go out on a mission and I was saying goodbye to him there." When Smathers was badly injured and flown home for medical care, Scout was left behind. "He was probably very confused and I knew I had to get him back. There's a bond with he and I, and as long as he was alive and it was within my power to get him here, I was gonna try. I owe him that. It was frustrating. Every door I tried was getting slammed in my face. I just kept knocking. As long as Scout was alive, I’d keep trying. And when I saw him laying at my feet, I was just smiling. I lay down with him and I felt like … John, you're done."
This week Captain Smathers was out walking with Scout and Judy, a new dog he rescued as a buddy for Scout, when the captain's heart suddenly gave out, and he died.
This from the Judge Advocate General's website, February 7, 2006:
"The Smathers family will receive friends Wednesday, 1600-2000 at Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home, Inc., 4112 Old Columbia Pike., Ellicott City, MD. A Mass of Christian Burial will be said Thursday, 1100 at St. Louis Catholic Church, Clarksville, MD. Interment will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Captain Smathers’ name to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, 1 Intrepid Square, New York, NY 10036 or call 1-800-340-HERO.
"Captain Smathers is survived by his mother, Carmella Smathers; his sisters Theresa Hoffmann, Frances Hudson, Mary Olson, Patricia Reeves, Luanne Tano and Christine Laubach, and many nieces and nephews.
"Further information, including details of the interment, will follow as soon as they become available. I ask that you remember the Smathers family in your prayers at this most difficult of times."