October 13, 2011

War Dog, Kind Dog, Hope of the World

By flip holsinger In Cormac McCarthy, journalism ethics, nicaragua, photo technique, photojournalism, War

Webster’s Dictionary defines War Dog as: a dog trained to serve on the battlefield. But not every war dog is a soldier. Many are merely victims.

The poorer the place the more stray dogs roam the streets. In my experience these strays are like people in similar conditions who scavage for scraps. Reluctant. Suspicious. Unapproachable. But not the dogs I encountered in the impoverished Miskito Indian villages of the Rio Coco region of northern Nicaragua. Though as thin and starving as any dogs I have witnessed anywhere in the world (and I mean this to carry all the weight such a statement can carry), these dogs were gentle, approachable, submissive. I fell immediately in love with them. And I immediately understood something about the Miskito that didn’t require a fancy survey or set of interviews to uncover: the people the dogs lived among, though thin and poor like the dogs, were kind.

I can’t prove it with a fancy study but I can tell you a fact: A kind dog leads to a kind person. Always.

Just look at this creature lying in the street in the remote jungle village along a forgotten river. It followed me and stuck by me. Everywhere I went in these villages I encountered the same.

I have been reading stories about U.S. Military War Dogs and as I delve I think, yeah, these animals are incredible, though separating fact from legend can be difficult. But it is true they are fascinating. And yet like life I am more fascinated by the masses of the unnoticed or little noticed. What about all those kind dogs who are really the hope of a decent world. They are canaries in the mine shafts of my modern age. What about the people whose kindness they inherit? They are the hope of the world and the makers of mine.

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