Tonight I want to leave you with a personal note: That great teachers are found sometimes in the most unlikely of places.
It was right after 9/11 that I received my first death threat. It was from a Muslim extremist that said he would kill me and my whole family if I didn't stop talking. It was the first time I ever had any professional interaction with the FBI and we were told to go home. We didn't even have curtains on the windows of our house at that time. I went home and I explained as calmly as I could to my wife as that we had to take sheets and blankets and put them on our window as soon as we could. That night we had a serious discussion with men who carried guns outside our bedroom door and in our property and we had a discussion about buying a gun. And my wife and I having not grown up around guns decided the answer was 'No'. Laughably we thought we weren't responsible enough to have one. So we were instructed to leave town for a month.
I was living in Florida at the time and I took my family to Los Angeles and we couldn't tell anybody that we were in LA for a month. We knew we needed something in the house to protect us.
Great teachers are everywhere. And they're found in unlikely places but they'll teach us great lessons. Victor has taught our family great lessons in duty an devotion. I have been able to be away from my family on road trips with comfort because he has been a part of our life. And he is teaching me now a very difficult lesson in dignity.
He has been on watch every since we met him. He's a service dog and he has become a much loved and loving part of our family. In addition to his job as protector his unwavering affection has been a lesson for our whole family. He came into our lives to protect us. And he has done that and much more. He's an amazing dog and he has taught me and my family about protection, devotion, dependence, caring and he is now teaching us the hardest lesson: learning when to let go.
We have depended on him for years and now his body is failing him. And now he depends on us to protect him and to care for him and to ultimately to decide what's best for him. Not for us. For him. The Victor decision is one I think we both know about. I know and he knows and I can see it in his eyes and we both know the other one knows that it doesn't make it easier.
Victor's lessons are ingrained in us forever. Protection, devotion and dignity.
I don't know what this holiday is going to bring us, but it may be a very tough decision. I would ask you for your prayers for Victor and our family and the difficult decisions that we face. Thank you, Victor.