Winter in Los Angeles

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Another dog was rescued from the L.A. River, although he didn't make as big of a splash as Vernon, the German Shepherd mix whose real named turned out to be Spikey,0,4112738.story. (By the way, did you know that you can buy a puppy that is the progeny of Rin-Tin-Tin for $2,500? I guess that's not a bad investment if he's going to become a famous movie star.)

Getting back to Vernon a.k.a. Spikey, who created such a media fuss that crowds of people wanted to adopt him -- isn't it ridiculous that he suddenly became "valuable" because he was in the news? If someone really wants a dog, then s/he can go to their local animal shelter and find one that's going to appreciate being rescued as much as Vernon (maybe more because, afterall, Vernon did bite the hand that rescued him). But that's not what wanting to adopt Vernon was really about.

Fans of Vernon wanted to adopt him so they could say, "I have that dog that was on TV -- you know, the one that was stranded in the L.A. River and had to be rescued by fire fighters?" Now they are the hero. Owning Vernon now gives them status.

This is not so different from our rescue efforts in Haiti.

Teams of people from all over the world went to Haiti with the best of intentions. But once there, we turned it into a worldwide competition with chants of "USA! USA!" when our rescuers someone pulled a survivor from the rubble. Do we have to make it into a competition to motivate ourselves? Why does it have to be the USA versus Israel versus Turkey versus Canada? Again, it's to say, "We went to Haiti," which translates into I have status as a human being. I did somthing good for my fellow man.

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