Lava Among the Ruins

(CBS/John Filo)
On tonight's Evening News you'll meet Lava, a 2-year-old mutt who was rescued from Fallujah by Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman of The United States Marines. He met Lava as a puppy while they were both in the middle of house-to-house fighting. Kopelman started a secret mission to rescue Lava that took 5 months but finally succeeded -- and he has written a book about it. (Kopelman, not Lava!)

Getting to know Lava (the rescued dog) takes a little determination if you meet him at his house. He is very territorial. There is no such thing as sneaking up on the Kopelman house in California. Lava barks loudly and does a not-very-convincing snarl when a stranger approaches. My producer and I had to go out a day early to meet Lava, so we wouldn't be complete strangers when we came to shoot the story. It was time well-spent. Lava did "greet us" the next day for about 10 minutes when we came back with the camera crew but, I swear, he knew when the red light came on. It's like this dog poses for the camera. When you see the pictures,you'll see what I mean. He prances up the street with his "Dad"…and it feels like he's smiling.

We found out though, that when you're on Lava's turf you need to be on your best behavior. My producer, Andy Wolff, and I are both ardent dog lovers. We were both competing to be Lava's new best friend. I thought I suffered a set back when Lava went to Andy first. I was rewarded, though, when he came and sat by me and let me rub his ears. I won the competition hands down, though when, when as were leaving, Lava took a little nip at the back of Andy's knee.

Not a bite…just a nip…but I know who Lava prefers!

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"