When Holly Barnes first met Bear, she knew that he was meant to be her dog.
Barnes first met Bear when he was a 6-month-old pup. He was born on a United States Marine base in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, where Barnes had been deployed as a civilian contract employee. Bear’s mother, Claire, was cared for by troops on the military base, and Bear often joined them on patrol.
U.S. Marine Corp leaders initially ordered for Bear and three other dogs on base — including Claire and Bear’s brother, Jack — to be put down because they were thought to be a distraction. Officials also feared that the dogs could spread diseases such as rabies.
When one of the dogs on the base died, Barnes new that she had to act fast to save Bear.
Not willing to give up, Barnes coordinated with the Marines to work out a compromise that would save the dogs that had brightened up their lives on the military base. The dogs were transported by helicopter to the Nowzad Shelter in Kabul.
Bear stayed at the shelter for six months while Barnes finished her deployment. When she returned to her home in Arlington, Va., Barnes vowed that she would bring Bear back to the United States with her.
Working with the Soldiers’ Animal Companions Fund, Barnes was able to raise the thousands of dollars required to transport Bear to the United States. Bear was finally able to reunite with Barnes, the woman who fought so hard to save his life, in April of this year.
“To watch him later that night feel grass for the first time…it was like a dream come true,” Barnes said of Bear’s homecoming and his first night at her Virginia home.
Since April, Bear, now 18-months-old, has flourished at his new home, and Barnes could not be more delighted. “He really has become the center of my world,” she told ABC 7 News.
Barnes has big plans for her buddy Bear, who she describes as a wonderful companion. After spending time in Afghanistan herself, she wants the mixed-breed dog to earn certification as a therapy dog so that the pair can help soldiers returning to the U.S. adjust to life at home.
It was also a happy ending for the two other dogs Barnes met while on the military base in Afghanistan; Bear’s mother, Claire, now lives with a Marine in North Carolina, and brother Jack found a family in Texas.
Source: ABC 7 News