I first met Carlos Cruz in 2012, the Sunday after the Fourth of July, and two weeks after he officially retired from the Marine Corps.
It took quite a few email exchanges to nail down the time and day of our meeting. One of the most marked symptoms of the Traumatic Brain Injury Carlos suffered in the suicide attack was his inability to remember small details.
After a few weeks of online tag, I finally got the opportunity to talk with Carlos in person – and to meet his yellow lab Logan, whom he had repeatedly credited with saving his life.
We agreed to have breakfast together in Carlsbad, just a few miles south of Camp Pendleton, the Marine base that served as Carlos’s home for several years.
I was just a few minutes late, but true to his military training, Carlos was right on time, sitting at a small corner table on the patio of a Carlsbad coffee house filled with Sunday morning late risers. Carlos dressed in a black T-shirt, as he said would, so I could recognize him.
Logan was less visible, lying underneath the table at Carlos’s feet. As I took a seat across from Carlos, Logan stood erect and approached me. I was struck by his beauty – large, brown, soulful eyes, his fluffy fur a perfect buttery yellow.
I slowly offered my hand for Logan to sniff. Logan is a working dog, and was obviously on the job that morning. He wasn't checking me out as a potential playmate, but as a possible threat to Carlos.
Logan proceeded to put his cold, wet nose close to my face, sniffing for danger. I quickly passed muster with Logan, as he resumed his previous position, lying at Carlos’s feet under the table.
Later today, "Even the Devil Can't Fool a Dog" - Part 4
(Read the previous installment of “Even the Devil Can’t Fool a Dog” by clicking here.)