With yelps and slobbery licks and kisses, some 14 dogs who began life as strays in Afghanistan were reunited Wednesday with the US service members who cared for them on the other side of the world.
“I’m going to take him to the park and let him run and run in the grass,” Zachary Henning said of his black and white charge, Gus, minutes after they reunited at JFK airport. “He’s never been in grass before.”
No dog should be left behind. It’s an imperative of the Armed Forces. Of course, it should be no man left should be left behind. But for a Canadian soldier, Cpl. Shane Seguin, that command recently expanded to include an Afghan canine.
On Feb. 9, 2010, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, a bullet shot from a Taliban sniper bounced off of Pvt. Lewis Henry and deflected onto his patrol companion, Pvt. Conrad Lewis from the 4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment.
Lewis, 22, was killed instantly.
“He was bloody unlucky,” said Lewis’ father, Antony Lewis, from Warwickshire, England.
Cathy Kangas wants to help stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan.
To that end, the animal activist and founder of beauty-products company PRAI is giving $55,000 to rescue neglected dogs through Nowzad Dogs, a grass-roots animal-rescue organization started by former marine sergeant Pen Farthing.
The gift is through Beauty with a Cause, an organization that helps animal-welfare organizations around the world funded through a percentage of her company’s profits.
Ms. Kangas happened upon Nowzad dogs after reading “One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Afghanistan,” by Mr. Farthing, who in 2007 began rescuing stray dogs used for Afghan dog-fighting while he was serving in Afghanistan in the United Kingdom’s Royal Marine Commando.
When John Steele decided on a name for his Afghan rescue German shepherd mix puppy Kaiah in September, he merged two distinct and contrasting components — the site of the first base (Kabul) he frequented in the mountainous, war-torn Southcentral Asian country with the a Hawaiian name (Native American origin) meaning “rare beauty.”
Staff Sgt. Steve DePalma returned home from his tour in Afghanistan one week ago. Since then, he says he has spent most of his time with his wife, Nancy, and their pets– especially the most recent animal addition to the family; their dog, Connie, who Sgt. DePalma rescued while serving overseas.
“She was my battle buddy in Afghanistan and I brought her home with me,” he said.
Sgt. Pen Farthing went to the Middle East a soldier and came home a savior.
For all the fighting Farthing was sent to do, it was playing peacemaker that changed his life forever. A member of the British Royal Marines, Farthing, now 41, was deployed to the town of Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in November 2006. One day near his compound, he saw two dogs fighting and went over to break it up. Little did he expect that one of the dogs in the fight would become a dear friend.