Saluting our Soldiers on Memorial Day

I long to return to a time when Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th, a time when Memorial Day was NOT the “official kick-off to summer” in the U.S., a time when it wasn’t a reason to consume copious amounts of beer and burgers and frolic with family and friends over the course of a three-day weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be enjoying sunshine, family and the sumptuous taste of a char-grilled burger myself, but it is important that I, and all of us who are Americans, stop and REMEMBER what Memorial Day actually IS and why it is commemorated.

Men, women and yes, canines, have sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom.

Somewhere through the years, many Americans have lost touch of WHAT significant holidays in our history MEAN.

There is nothing “happy” about Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the day in which we REMEMBER the men and women who DIED while serving our country.

Memorial Day has become lost in the ridiculousness that was created when Congress,  on June 28, 1968 signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which  officially took effect on January 1, 1971. This act moved holidays such as Memorial Day,  George Washington’s birthday (remember him? The “father of our country” whose birthday REALLY IS FEBRUARY 22ND), Labor Day (now celebrated the first Monday in September), and Columbus Day (Columbus Day USED to be on Christopher Columbus’s REAL BIRTHDAY, October 12th, but is now celebrated the second Monday of October). The act was officially designed to “increase the number of 3 day weekends for federal employees.”


Well, “isn’t THAT special?”


Thankfully, July 4, (Independence Day), has remained unscathed………


So while I, and many of you, are enjoying this time with friends and family, take a moment, STOP and REMEMBER the reason this day exists.

memorial day

Book Review: “Dogs Of Courage” by Lisa Rogak

I was honored to be given the opportunity to review Dogs Of Courage by Lisa Rogak.

Dogs of Courage is “the heroism and heart of working dogs around the world.”

Prior to reading this information packed book I was under the mistaken assumption that only certain breeds with certain “jobs” could be considered to be “dogs of courage.” I never suspected that a Chihuahua, or for that matter a Sheltie, would be a dog that could ever  earn the title of  Dogs Of Courage.  That mistaken thought reveals the cat lover in me, and shows just how much learning that I need to do to truly better  understand DOGS. Of course I LOVE dogs but I do admit that I am far less well versed about all things dog, than I am about all things CAT.

Photo Courtesy of macmillan

Photo Courtesy of macmillan

I never realized until reading  Dogs Of Courage, that EVERY dog has the potential of being a “dog of courage” regardless of their breed, size or particular talent.

From Dogs Of Courage: While we smile (and cry) when we hear stories on the news about courageous dogs, we rarely learn “Why dogs go out of their way to help us.” and “how do they get that way? How are dogs able to perform tasks and work in tandem with the humans who are their partners?” Dogs of Courage answers those questions and many more.

What Is a Dog of Courage?

It could be your next door neighbor’s dog, it could be a dog that works with police or fire, a dog trained as a therapy dog in a nursing home or hospital, a dog that works in a prison, even a movie star dog such as Lassie.  A “dog of courage” can have any one of a number of jobs that you will delight in reading about in full detail in this marvelous book.

Did you know?

  • That the smallest police dog in the world is an 8 lb Chihuahua named Midge who hails from Geauga County, Ohio?  Midge has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.
  • That many arson investigators and insurance companies think that Labrador retrievers are the best dogs for arson work?
  • That Newfoundlands are considered to be the best breed for water work?
  • That a Collie named “Kira” works as a psychiatric service dog?

Being from Michigan, I was particularly intrigued reading about a Golden Retriever named Landon who was brought into a family to help their 10-year-old autistic son, David.  Landon was acquired from Paws with a Cause, a nonprofit organization in Wayland, Michigan that trains assistance dogs to help people with disabilities. Landon ended up helping David with his communication skills and enabled him to open up more. Landon also helped David be better able to fall asleep at night just by being by his side.

I urge you to buy this wonderful book. If you are an educator, this would be a marvelous book to use as a learning tool in the classroom to teach students about how important dogs are in our lives, not just as our trusted and playful companions, but to enable students to learn about  the many jobs that a dog may have and how important they are in helping us to better function in our  daily existence.

From the publisher St.Martin’s Press: Dogs of Courage reveals the heartwarming and awe-inspiring stories of these hard-working dogs, from the training they receive to the ways we honor their sacrifices and reward their years of service.  Dogs Of Courage is an incredible story of the vital role that dogs play as working heroes, it is a must-read for animal-lovers everywhere.

About the Author:

Lisa Rogak is the author of The Dogs Of War: The Courage, Love and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs, the Edgar-and Anthony-nominated Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein,  and And Nothing But the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert. She is also editor of the New York Times-bestselling Barack Obama in His Own Words.

ISBN: 1-250-02176-6