Summer is approaching as I write this article and I'm on a quest to find books for summer reading. I have only one criteria for summer...short! Books that I can read in only a few hours, then on to the next one. So one day while shopping at yard sales, I found this book with an adorable puppy on the cover. I know what you're thinking...'you can't judge a book by it's cover'. But c'mon he's so cute and the book was written by a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, Jay Kopelman. I bought the book and it was my first summer read this year. From Baghdad, With Love made me laugh and cry and had me on the edge of my seat wondering if Lava will survive Baghdad. Put it on your list of summer reading, you'll be glad you did!
From Baghdad, With Love
A Marine, the war in Baghdad, a puppy named Lava and the journey from Iraq to America.
An Abandoned House
That's where it all started
Members of First Battalion, Third Marines known as Lava Dogs, stormed an abandoned house in Fallujah when they heard clicking coming from one of the rooms. With their weapons drawn they slowly entered and were startled to see a five-week old puppy dart across the room. His nails clicking on the floor.
The puppy, later named Lava, was dirty, undernourished and covered with fleas. Going against military regulations, the men fed and bathed the puppy, doused him with kerosene to get rid of the fleas and gave him chewing tobacco to de-worm him.
This building became the command post, which meant that the men would have to hide Lava when ‘the brass’ was around or else Lava would most likely be shot and killed, per military regulations.
Then along came Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman…he’s brass. The Lt. Col. saw Lava and asked the men why there is a puppy running around the command post. He got a lot of excuses from the men, mostly with a collective bowed head and toe in the sand saying “What? There’s a puppy here?”
The Journey Out of Baghdad
Will Lava get out...
The Lt. Col. was not fooled by the men and their excuses, he knew they had adopted the puppy and were caring for it. He too was taken in by Lava’s personality. In fact, Lt. Col. Kopelman became so attached to Lava that he made it his mission to take Lava home with him to the United States.
That journey started with a phone call to a friend back home, then it all just snow-balled from there. An animal shelter offered to help (they had done this before), a military dog training school offered their expertise, Iam’s Pet Food offered help and funding, an American reporter, Iraqi civilians and countless others orchestrated the trek that would get Lava from Baghdad to California. As you can probably imagine, the best laid plans. There were phone calls, emails, letters written and conference calls which all formulated an expeditious journey, except when unexpected obstacles popped up, and they did. It was beginning to look as though Lava would never get out of Baghdad.
The author's mission
The author, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman, (with Melinda Roth) takes you with him on his mission to get Lava out of Baghdad and into the United States. It's a journey that will have you on the edge of your seat, with a box of tissues!
This is one of those books that I will read over and over again. It's available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle.
Meet Jay and Lava
See them on the news
Add it to your list, you'll be glad you did
Yes, I do recommend From Baghdad, With Love for your summer reading or any time of year. It's a beautifully written, heartwarming story. Watch the video to see Lava in person. Oh, and Lt. Col. Kopelman!