The 2014 Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia.
You already know that.
That first sentence was a test to see if I would be allowed to print it.
Just writing “2014 Winter Olympics” is a potential International Olympic Committee copyright violation. During the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, the Olympics trademark was so aggressively protected that I received two warnings regarding copyright infringement.
One was for the crude Olympics symbol I drew on a cardboard sign for purposes of hitchhiking to and from Park City.
The other was for a private project to supply portable potties to the Games. The IOC wasn’t happy with the catchy toilet seat design.
But that was Salt Lake City. The games are in Russia now. The Salt Lake Tribune sent a team of journalists to Sochi.
I’m not one of them.
That’s good, because Sochi is dangerous for the likes of us.
Unlike television anchors and commentators, newspaper reporters and photographers are a notoriously scruffy bunch. It’s entirely possible that my coworkers will be mistaken for stray dogs and rounded up by Sochi animal control.
There are so many stray dogs in Sochi that they boldly wander onto training fields and into news interviews. Rather than allow the mutts to embarrass the Games, officials are rounding them up.
Reportedly — and I may be making this up — Sochi hired the Afghani Taliban to capture and dispose of its stray dogs. The coincidence here is too much.
The Taliban recently held a press conference featuring a dog it captured during a gun battle. Although it is not known whether the dog had been shooting back, a rifle captured at the same time also was displayed.
Note: I am NOT making up this part.
The dog, a Belgian malinois named “Colonel,” is seen in the video wearing a military/police harness and looking rather confused. At least one report claims that.
the mujahideen who captured Colonel say he was a member of the U.S. military unit that raided their base. The U.S. military says Colonel actually belonged to an ally taking part in the operation.
Either way, Colonel — like the dogs in Sochi — has become a focal point in a debate beyond its limited ken. You can tell on the video that he knows things are not quite right.
Taliban guy: “Withdraw infidels or the dog gets it.”
Colonel: “I have to pee.”
I’d need a bathroom break, too, if I’d been captured by a bunch of fundamentalists with a Stone Age mentality and a generally poor regard for life. In the Taliban’s “Big Book of Stuff We Don’t Mind Shooting,” an American journalist ranks on a par with adulterous women, swine in general and someone else’s dog.
Sadly, Colonel’s lifespan is measured in his propaganda worth. When that’s over, so is he.
As reports of the Olympics Opening Ceremony came in Friday, I couldn’t stop thinking of an important back story abruptly forgotten in the clamor over human achievement and competition.
“What’s going to happen to all those dogs?”
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.