Dexter, the Last Navy Horse

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Dexter was a real horse that was first drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II and later served in the U.S. Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Home for disabled and retired sailors. His little known story was so touching that this fictional short story was written about him and his friendship with his pals at the naval home so many years ago.
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About Valarie Vine

Yep, that’s me sitting on a rock in Griffith Park over there on the left. Pretty young to write a book, you say? Actually, the photo was taken a very long time ago, but that little girl with the over-sized boots and sunny smile will always be that age (no matter how many chronological years I accumulate). You see, once upon a time I was a “Little Orange” in the “Big Apple”------a little girl from sleepy Sherman Oaks, California who suddenly found herself (along with her brother, mother and father) living in the city that NEVER sleeps, New York City! That little girl pretty much ran wild and free through the streets of that great metropolis and had adventures that seem almost unbelievable in retrospect. Before the images fade of those times so long ago, as if in a dream that we try to hold onto upon awakening, I want to share her story with all of you.

I have long been a reader with a particular fondness for coming-of age books (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catcher in the Rye being my personal favorites). I received a 3rd place writing award for an essay on fire prevention in 11th grade that consisted of a fireman holding a hose mounted on top of a block of wood with my name on it. It is still cherished as if it was an Oscar or Olympic medal because it was the first validation of my writing. From childhood I was engendered with a love for the classics of literature, music, and movies-----a shout out to Steinbeck, Tchaikovsky, and Ted Turner, respectively! For three decades I was blessed with living near the water's edge at Hollywood Beach, California and will forever keep the sights and sounds in my mind's eye: the plaintive foghorn, the scream of the gulls, the sunlight dancing on the waves, the pelicans flying in ancient and regal formation above the Pacific, and my labrador's affinity for running untold miles with me along the beach. Cherished memories forever. The foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, "Gold Country", is now my home in this final season of life where I walk cemeteries in every season, enjoying the jackrabbits in the spring, vigilant for snakes in summer, crunching through the beautiful leaves of autumn, and carefully stepping through the snow drifts that adorn the tombstones in winter. Culturally, historically,aesthetically, and spiritually, there is much to be learned in these hallowed grounds.

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Review by: Grant Gillard on June 3, 2011 :
A heart-warming story of those who give their service to their country, even the four-legged ones.
(review of free book)
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