Friday, November 18, 2011

A Little Canine Companionship During Deployment

A little known fact about Afghanistan – there a lots of abandoned dogs! Read about some Iowa National Guard soldiers who were reunited with their canine counterparts.

Iowa Troop Pantry collects non-pork dog supplies to send to service members who notify us that they have a dog.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Stray puppies from Afghanistan started their new life in Eastern Iowa on Friday.

Three Iowa National Guard members went all the way to New York to pick up the dogs that they first adopted while serving overseas.

The dogs were brought to the US by American Airlines. They made their last stop of the long journey at the AmericInn in Cedar Rapids.

Sergeant Adam Riniker, Specialist Penny Herold and Specialist Sheila Schaffer are part of the same company where the arrival of seven puppies became a moral boost.

“Freedom's mother was down at our base in Med Laham where we were stationed where we were working on trucks," Sergeant Riniker said.

The dogs brought a new joy to the soldier’s routines in Afghanistan. Riniker described the feeling of being with the dogs like being at a home.

“The other soldiers they're dealing with issues of being away from home, they're depressed. It's a spiritual save for them. It makes them feel good, gives the something to look forward to every day,” Specialist Schaffer said.

Yet in Afghanistan dogs often run loose in the streets and don’t survive for long.

“We usually either have to get rid of them or they would shoot some of them cause of disease and stuff,” Riniker said.

Specialist Schaffer was determined to bring her dog "Charlie" and the rest of the pack back to the US where they would be safe. She contacted Nowzad which is an organization in Afghanistan that rescues dogs for soldiers.

Specialist Herold said that once Nowzad offered help they had to quickly give up their friends, including her dog, Liberty Riniker’s dog, freedom and Schaffer’s dog, Charlie. In fact, they also had to quickly choose names. Being soldiers they choose all of the patriotic names they could think of to name the pups.

The puppies are now eight months old, and they had to wait to come to the US until enough money was raised to bring them half-way around the world. It costs about $4,000 for each dog that travels to the US.

Right now two puppies Echo and Bravo, also from the same litter, as the Iowa soldier’s dogs, are waiting for funding to make the same trip home. To donate to help Echo and Bravo come home contact the American Dog Rescue.

For Specialist Herold it’s a journey she is very thankful that Liberty was able to make.

“This is my best friend right here cause I feel like we've been in the war zone together," Herold said.


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