An American Hero

Living in L.A. you tend to see celebrities from time to time, but it’s not every day that you meet a true hero. I want to share an encounter that seems even more meaningful in the wake of the recent anniversary of 9/11.

A few years ago at its Red Tie Affair, the Red Cross honored the UCLA People Animal Connection and Captain “Sully” Sullenberger. Charley, as well as 5 of the other furry honorees, were at our table in the grand ballroom of the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. Captain Sullenberger was seated nearby.


If you’ve read some of my posts, you may find this hard to believe. On my own, I might not have approached him, but with Charley’s leash firmly in hand, I walked over to introduce myself and say hello. He could not have been nicer. As a bonus, he and his family are dog people! When a woman tried to take cuts in line for a photo, he gently told her that Charley and I were there first.

What truly inspired me to write this today is that I just saw the movie Sully. I was familiar with the Miracle on the Hudson. I knew about Captain Sullenberger’s amazing accomplishments. I had heard him humbly and graciously accept his award at the gala. Sitting in the theatre, however, there were tears in my eyes as I watched the whole story unfold. The movie really put it into perspective. Thanks to my big, beautiful canine hero, I had enjoyed the privilege of meeting a real life American hero.


A Special Goodbye

In the wake of the horrendous shootings in Florida, I have chosen to write about a man who represents the best of our country. Frank Callahan was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1945 after receiving a Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action as a hospital corpsman attached to the Marines. He was a special agent for the FBI from 1951-1979.

Above all, he was a gentleman, a wonderful husband, father to four daughters and friend to many. He was also a buddy to the Doods. During his last hospital stay, shortly before he passed, I had the privilege of bringing the dogs in to visit and cheer him up. He was resting when we reached his room but as soon as I tapped on the door, he woke up, saw the dogs and got the sweetest smile on his face.

A final visit with the Doods
A final visit with the Doods

He wanted to pet the dogs so I lifted Charley and Elbee gently onto his bed. His smile grew even wider as they snuggled close to him while he rubbed their heads. We spent the next few minutes in peaceful conversation, totally forgetting his illness. I took photos for his daughter Tracy to share with the family.

Frank passed away at home days later. He was buried with honors in Arlington cemetery. My deep gratitude goes to him and to his family for those precious moments we spent in the hospital and for the sweet memory of him with the Doods. At difficult times we need to focus on the people who make our country great.