Best Defense

Rebecca’s Weekly War Dog: School kids bring home Alice the Afghan stray

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense chief canine correspondent So the world has been set alight with war-dog fever (it’s about time). There were reports this week that over 400 inquiries about adopting retired MWDs have been made in the three weeks since news came out about Cairo, the dog who was allegedly a part of ...

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By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent

So the world has been set alight with war-dog fever (it’s about time). There were reports this week that over 400 inquiries about adopting retired MWDs have been made in the three weeks since news came out about Cairo, the dog who was allegedly a part of the U.S. Navy SEAL team that got bin Laden. And while this is nothing but happy news for the military and its service dogs — a bunch of kids from Lebanon Indiana were way ahead of the trend. These middle school students helped raise enough money to bring Alice, an Afghan stray home to Indiana so she could be reunited with Captain Matt Taylor, who lives in their town and was one of the soldiers who looked after the puppy while on deployment in Afghanistan.

Alice, like most dogs in Afghanistan, had rough start to life before she found a home with the group of U.S. Marines who adopted her. Capt. Taylor says that she was emaciated — a measly 10 to 15 pounds — and pocked with scars from scuffles with other dogs.

But she made herself at home, offering love and comfort in exchange for room and board — quickly becoming more than just the unit’s mascot:

“You come home and it’s hot or cold or you are wet or tired and there is always somebody who is real happy to see you,” Taylor said. “You’re not going to get a hug and a kiss from a Marine when you come back from patrol, but there is always a little girl like this to come up and give you a lick, put her head on her lap and remind you there is something nice in the world too.”

But when the news came that the unit was getting a bomb-sniffing dog, there was no other option — Alice would have to go. But no one had the heart to turn her out, so Capt. Taylor and his fellow soldiers started to drum up support with a website, the money from the Lebanon middle school, raised one dollar at a time, and the combined assistance of a British non-profit that offered the dog safe passage from Dubai back to the States. But Taylor took a chance on getting Alice to the airport — putting her in a taxi for a 14 hour drive with nothing but the assurances of the enthusiastic driver. But Alice arrived in Indiana safe and sound where Taylor joined her a few months later.

Alice and Capt. Taylor paid a visit to the school last week so the pair could properly give thanks, and so the students could see what their good efforts — and maybe their allowance money — was able to accomplish.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and my Marines’ hearts because this little girl helped us through some hard times, Taylor said. “[Alice] was a really sweet reminder of what is good and good things that can happen when people like you come together.”

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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