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For the love of a dog

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4

Aims

To reflect on the quality of loyalty via a true story.

Preparation and materials

  • You can download a picture of Scar – the heroic dog in the story below – and his new family at: http://extreme-carpet.com/a-homeless-iraq-dog-saves-soldier  
  • Have available the song ‘That’s what friends are for’, from The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Productions, 1967), and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.

Assembly

  1. Peter Pero was one of thousands of American soldiers deployed in Iraq. Pero had found a friend in a homeless Iraqi dog, which followed him around on his patrols. One day, Pero crossed outside of the secure base, followed by the dog. Suddenly, the dog began to snarl and act in a defensive manner. An Iraqi man was approaching, holding a shovel. The dog defended Pero and was hit in the face with the shovel for his trouble.

    This act of aggression by the Iraqi man alerted the American soldiers, who apprehended the attacker and found a gun concealed in his clothes. 

    Had the dog not defended his friend, Pero and other soldiers could have been killed.

  2. The dog became known as Scar, because of the shovel wound on the side of his face that he sustained during the attack. Pero and Scar became even greater friends, but the US army has a no pets policy so was not willing for Pero to keep Scar and send him back to the US with Pero when his tour ends. 

    Through an online campaign, money was raised to save Scar and send him to Pero’s wife, Anna, and he has made it safely to her in the USA. She keeps a yellow ribbon tied around a tree during Pero’s tour of service – it will be untied when he returns and is reunited with her and the dog that saved his life.

  3.  Scar faced danger to protect his friend and, similarly, Pero faced challenges getting him to the USA. Yet they supported each other and were successful. Scar’s journey to the USA would not have been possible without the support of many friends and an online campaign. Peter Pero could rely on his friends to help him achieve something important.

  4. Even in a war zone, with unknown enemies and dangers all around, Pero was safe because he had a friend he could rely on. He also had supportive and kind friends back in the USA.

Time for reflection

Think about this true story. You may know of others about dogs that have risked their lives to save human beings.

You will have seen trained dogs working on the street, as eyes for people with limited or no vision, ears for those who have limited or no hearing, as ‘sniffer’ dogs at ports and airports and sometimes shopping centres. People who work with such dogs often keep them as pets after the dogs retire.

Are you as loyal a friend as Scar was to Pero?

Who would you count as loyal friends in your group?

Who do you have to think about before going along with their wishes?

Scar was loyal to Pero, no matter what. I wonder how much comfort he brought to those soldiers, engaged in difficult and dangerous lives, a long way from home. No matter what the situation, we are never alone if we have friends.

Music

‘That’s what friends are for’, The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Productions, 1967)

Publication date: January 2014   (Vol.16 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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