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Iraqi dog barks, two car thieves nabbed in San Diego

January 7, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Lava2 A retired Marine credits the dog he smuggled home from Iraq with alerting him that two thieves were trying to burglarize his wife's car outside their La Jolla home.

Retired Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman said the 4-year-old dog, Lava, began growling and barking about 2 a.m. Wednesday. When Kopelman went outside to investigate, he saw two men inside his wife's Subaru.

Kopelman followed the men in his car and called police, who arrested them on burglary and drug charges.

Kopelman found Lava in Fallouja and smuggled him home, despite military rules. The tale is explored in the book "From Baghdad, With Love."

Kopelman is now executive director of the nonprofit Freedom Is Not Free foundation, which helps military personnel who have been wounded and the families of those who were killed.

He has promised a steak dinner for Lava. "This is the most fun I've had since I left Fallouja," he said.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Lava, with Jay Kopelman in the background. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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