In later stages of the experiment, there was little to distinguish the personalities of man and dog, wolf and wolfman, shark and man. You’ve read the same reports I’ve read. You know the techniques they used and the battlefield benefits they claimed to justify their funding. What you couldn’t know is the price paid by the subjects and their families. My husband Dave never gave his consent. He and his decorated dog reported for K-9 duty on an auspicious summer afternoon, suspecting nothing, and staggered from the training compound two weeks later fundamentally altered. Dog and master they entered. Something monstrous they emerged. Nothing of the two of them was lost, but both were, I don’t know, converted into new currencies. I have to say, for a time Dave seemed a better man for the exchange. Dreamy before, he afterwards always seemed authoritatively present, and in his eyes a purity of desire that took me by the shoulders and lay me down. Then flipped me over. There was no after-cuddling, though, unless I followed where he wandered and curled up with him on the floor. Aloof then, idle, biding his time but honest and true, he’d gaze and be near me with nothing to say. Silent most of the time, in fact, he never argued with me again. Food he consumed methodically, like jaw exercises, unless I took his plate, which I tried just once. But Buddy—Buddy came back a mess, neurotic, short-tempered. When he wasn’t snarling at Dave or hiding from Dave, he looked, how can I say this: troubled; but most of the time they fought to stay on top and neither knew how to give in. They had no answers back at the base, just a pack of go-alongs taking orders, nobody truly in charge.

Copyright © April 18, 2007 David Hodges