The Best Defense

Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: The Best of Those Soldier-Dog Reunion Videos

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

Last week, Army Sgt. Jason Bos was reunited with his former bomb-sniffing partner, Cila, a chocolate Lab. According to the Chicago Tribune, the two were paired together for nearly five years, deploying to Iraq to search for IEDs and taking on other bomb-detection assignments from their home station of Fort Lee in Virginia. After hurting his back, however, Bos left the Army in 2012 and Cila, a young dog of only five years, continued her military career and was partnered with another handler.

But last month, he saw a post on Facebook with the news that Cila was set to retire; after getting in touch with his former kennel master at Fort Lee, arrangements were made. And then on April 30, Bos was in Chicago's O'Hare airport waiting for his former partner to arrive so he could bring her home for good.   

Before getting to the airport, Bos (as he told the Tribune) was worried that Cila might not recognize him after being apart for two years: "‘I hope she remembers my voice," he said [a] day earlier from his home near Grand Rapids."

But as you can see, he didn't have to worry:

After receiving numerous emails this week from WDotW readers (including T.R. and my sister) with a link to Bos and Cila's reunion clip, it felt like time to collect these captured moments for your viewing pleasure in one post. Now, while these are not handlers being reunited with their former MWD partners, the homecoming emotion is certainly one in the same:

Dog Chuck moves like the wind...

Some high-pitched happiness after returning from Afghanistan:

Anne howls with joy:

German shepherd fetches ball, finds his owner home again:


Anticipation... (Note how these two dogs watch that front door...)

And, not to play favorites, but this one is mine:

Rebecca Frankel is senior editor, special projects at Foreign Policy. Her forthcoming book War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love comes out on Oct. 14 from Palgrave Macmillan.

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The Best Defense

Tom's take on how to write a damn book

This is a slightly modified version of an article that ran the other day on New America's digital magazine, the Weekly Wonk.

The Tip: Writing a book is more like carpentry than poetry.

First, two bits of carpenter's wisdom:

  • Only write a book because you have to. Otherwise it is too hard. All good books have passion in them. (Unfortunately, so do a lot of bad books.)
  • The second main ingredient is time. If you don't enjoy spending time alone, you won't enjoy writing a book.

Okay, let's write the damn book:

1. Figure out what your big idea is. Then find an agent. Best way to do this is look in acknowledgements of books similar to what you have in mind. Set up meetings with three or four in New York.

2. Having picked an agent, write a proposal. You probably have no idea what a good book proposal looks like, so ask your new agent for copies of one or two good proposals for books similar to what you have in mind.

3. Write a proposal. I find this a very hard step. Give yourself several weeks for this. This is the point at which you are starting with nothing and trying to do everything, from figuring out your ideas to how to structure the book and even how to title it.

4. After your agent polishes the proposal, he or she will solicit offers from publishers. This leads to an advance. Remember that advances usually come in quarters. No, not rolls of quarters, but at four increments -- on contract signing, on delivery of publishable manuscript, on hardcover publication, and paperback publications). Plus you have the agent's fee and taxes. So a $100,000 advance (big these days for a first book) will net you maybe $18,000 on which to actually write the book. Best to figure out your other financial resources: Think tank? Bank account? Parents?

5. Write the book. No, don't say you're writing the book. Actually write. Every day. Learn to be selfish about your time. If it is not your top priority, it won't get done.

6. Have "critical readers" take a look at the manuscript before delivery.

7. Reserve a lot of energy for publicizing the book. The window for your book having an impact is about 5 weeks -- longer than milk, shorter than yogurt. The only reviews that matter are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (the latter because its readers buy hardcover books). NPR shows, both local and national, are hugely helpful, especially Terry Gross, the best interviewer out there. The only TV shows that sell books are Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's. At the opposite end are local morning shows like "Howdy Do, Dallas" and "Wake Up, Wasilla," which I think are just a waste of time. Tell your publicist you are gonna sleep in.

8. After my most recent book, I complained to my editor about a rough period I had with it. He shrugged and said, with some empathy, "Every good book has at least one nervous breakdown in it."