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Hero Comes Home, A Recap

Posted by SusanStokes on December 8, 2011

Hero - What is All the Controversy About?

While watching ABC news last Friday evening, I was lucky enough to see the story highlight about Hero, the “miracle dog."  My initial reaction was “this is a heartwarming story, but is that the original dog?”  I actually glossed over the sunbeam issue myself, chalking it up to expert photography and being in the right place at the right time.  But later, in watching the online videos and reading the comments back, I was amazed at the controversy this story stirred up.

For some, the story and photo were nothing short of a miracle.  A story and photo that makes you want to believe in the afterlife and that there truly is a God.  But for others, it stirred up ridicule, anger and sarcastic remarks. 


(Kimberly Launier/ABC News)

Above is the photo that caused all the commotion. The dog is named Hero, and as the story goes, he was one of eight puppies found under a toilet by Army Specialist Justin Rollins while serving in Iraq a few years ago.  Justin had emailed photos of himself holding one puppy to his girlfriend the night before he was tragically killed by a roadside bomb.


(Courtesy of Jason Wheeler)

In reviewing the photos after his death, Justin’s mom decided she wanted one of the puppies as a remembrance of Justin’s last day of life and happiness.  Who could blame her?  So began “Operation Hero.”  From front page news in the local newspaper through Congress and the Pentagon, Hero’s rescue and return to Justin’s parents in New Hampshire began.

So far, so good….right?  I know I was moved watching this story unfold. 

Miraculously, the dog is found, brought back to New Hampshire on May 25, 2007, and eventually the story makes 20/20 News.  All is well…right?

I must admit, while watching this story on television I was wondering to myself “did they get the correct dog?”  "Does that patch on the side of his head match the puppy ‘s patch in Justin’s photo?"  Justin’s mom did say in her video interview she wanted “one of the puppies” and was told the odds to find it were one in a million.  But sometimes things are just “meant to be" - right? 

When the story came to air along with the photo of the dog with the beam of light cast around him, I wasn’t sure how to take it.  A coincidence perhaps, I thought.  A photo taken by an expert photographer who is able to capture just the right light and angle to create a fantastic photograph.  But not so fast…as I later began reading all the comments back on the ABC News community page, I was quite surprised how others responded to this story: 

“Not only did the camera capture the rays of light, but it captured Orbs within the rays of light. Spiritual Orbs. God bless.” 

Seriously???? What about the other six mothers whose sons died in the same incident? Where is their puppy?.... Thousands have lost loved ones in the wars. Few are so self-centered and ridiculous as to make a request such as this.” 

Beautiful story but is it the same dog? I hate to point this out but the brown mark on the puppy's left eye that is being held by Justin does not match that of Hero. Or am I wrong?” 

Any photographer will recognize the globes of light as minute dust particles on the lens, which creates prism-ike colors. You will notice the globes of light. Those are incidental by dust on the camera’s lens. You will also notice a greater, fuzzier globe of light around the dog which is also incidental to the a dirty lens. This effect was, in years past, deliberately created by vanity photographers by a petroleum salve on the lens. The diffusion of the light creates the washed out effect you see in this picture on the dog. The part of the photograph that makes one particularly question the honesty of the photographer is the fact that on such a cloudy day there would 1) be a hole so distinctly formed in the cloud as to create a sharp shadow by the dog and 2) that the angle of those rays have a focus only a few hundred feet away. The sun’s rays are always, excepting in paintings of Jesus and this photograph are in perfect parallel. This was demonstrated by Eratosthenes centuries before the afore mentioned Jesus.”

“I had read in the other story about the rescued dog that this photograph had accidentally been captured. I think it’s just cool as hell. @Pablum; bitter much? Thank YOU so much for the chuckle.” 

It certainly is a distinctive photo, but it is not supernatural. As a military journalist and photographer I have taken literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of photos in virtually every condition on more than 30 countries and four continents around the world. I have had so many pictures come out this way because of the sun, hitting at just the very edge of the lens and cascading a prism-like refraction across the outer glass element of the lens – any lens. I have used this technique on purpose for many aerial photos, at-sea photos and others to create dramatic effect and to draw the viewers’ eyes to a particular subject or part of the photo. It is a creative photo, but again, not supernatural.”

I think that this dog may be Jesus.

I’m sure I can see funny little faces and animals in the background – kind of like blending in amongst the branches and leaves. It looks like a devil’s head above the dog in the top half!” 

The comments were found on the article entitled "Not Photoshopped: Bean of Light Shines on Fallen Soldier's Miracle Dog."

All I can say is that I will be looking for followup shots from photographer, Kimberly Launier.  She brought herself a bit of notoriety with this photo and story, and let’s see what she comes up with next.

Susan, Taurus and Gemini