Just this morning I was interviewing a gentleman for an article I’m writing about depression.  Along the way he said, though not precisely in these words, that an effective treatment for depression is one that helps you return to being fully human, to being able to get your life moving again so you can be completely the person you are.  We need to acknowledge, he said, that the way most of us live our lives in this 21st century culture is out of balance with our inherent humanity.

This really speaks to something that I’ve been ranting about lately to anyone who will stand still and listen to me. We work too hard at jobs that don’t feed anything but our wallets, we eat stuff that isn’t really food, we live sedentary lives out of touch with our bodies and what they have evolved to be able to do, we neglect our spiritual selves, and we live apart from the people and communities who love and support us.

This morning I read this news report about Ratchet, a dog that some of the rest of you may also have been reading about for a couple of weeks now.  In war-torn Iraq, the dog who came to be called Ratchet and a young service woman from Minneapolis, Army Specialist Gwen Beberg, found each other and formed their own little community. Beberg, anticipating her homecoming, has been trying to arrange for Ratchet to be transferred stateside at the same time.

No dice, said the Powers That Be–military personnel are not allowed to have or care for pets, they said, and we can bear no responsibility for the transfer of this dog.

Beberg and another soldier rescued one-month-old Ratchet from a burning pile of trash in May, and from that point on Beberg and Ratchet were more than just companions–they were lifelines for each other. Beberg’s mother credits the pup with supporting her daughter through the stresses of her deployment.

This week, with the cooperation of many different people and organizations, including the U.S.-based Baghdad Pups, Ratchet was finally flown to Beberg’s home state, where her parents will care for him until Beberg herself gets home next month.

Even those of us who find this war deplorable and senseless must acknowledge the toll taken–both in war zones and after returning home–on the lives and well being of the men and women involved, and on those who care for them.  I can’t imagine a better source of endless and enduring comfort and support for a returning soldier than a dog who knows and loves her without boundaries or conditions. All the more so if that dog and that soldier have shared a common experience.

I even wonder whether it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give every service member a dog.

Congratulations, Ratchet.  And Gwen–come home safely.

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