On a military base in Afghanistan, five puppies provided a bit of comfort to five U.S. Marines.
Today, all of those puppies are in the U.S., and one of them is in Waupaca.
Rosie is the name of the puppy now living here with Brian and Bonnie Anderson.
“My son said Rosie won the puppy lottery,” Bonnie said.
Last December, her son, a U.S. Marine, was on his second deployment in Afghanistan when a dog snuck onto the base and soon gave birth to five puppies.
“The guys found the puppies when they were 2 to 3 days old. They made sure the mom had food. When the puppies were about 3 weeks old, the mom started leaving them,” Bonnie said.
Five of the men in the unit adopted each of the five puppies, caring for the dogs during their off time. Their family members back home sent dog food.
As the unit prepared to be sent home, the men decided they wanted to bring the puppies home, too.
“They knew leaving the puppies there, they would face certain death,” Bonnie said. “In Afghanistan, dogs are not taken in as pets.”
There, dogs are considered unclean and are often used for target practice. They are also used for dog fighting, and their ears and tails cut off to make them more competitive fighters.
The Marines did their research and learned of a rescue organization called “Nowzad Dogs.” The charity formed in May 2007 to rescue dogs in the Middle East.
Pen Farthing, a retired Royal Marine, wrote about the challenge of trying to rescue two Afghan strays in One Dog at a Time. He manages the charity.
In the U.S., the Soldiers’ Animal Companions Fund promotes the welfare and rescue of animals in war-torn Middle Eastern countries where soldiers have been stationed. Information about how to make tax-deductible donations to that fund can be found at sacfund.giving.officelive.com.
Brian and Bonnie Anderson know there are many stray dogs and cats in the U.S., and Bonnie explains what the puppies meant to her son and the others in his base while they were deployed in Afghanistan.
“Those few months they had the dogs, they were dealing with hell day in and day out,” she said. “When they could come back to their little cubbyhole, they had an animal for comfort. It gave them a piece of home. It was a matter of them taking care of each other.”
They could not imagine leaving those dogs behind.
It was in February that Bonnie’s son said, “Mom, I’m bringing something home. Is that OK?”
Bonnie figured her son was to far in the desert to find a wife and was relieved to find out it was a dog he wanted to bring home.
“We went back and forth a couple weeks on how to get her home,” she said. “They used their downtime to figure out the logistics. We didn’t really know until the week before he was leaving that she’d make it.”
They left their base on Helmand Province on March 26. A civilian contractor, who was a friend of the five Marines, took the five puppies to the Nowzad Dogs rescue in Kabul.
Rosie stayed at the shelter until mid-June. She was cared for, vaccinated and played with during her stay there.
“We were fortunate,” Bonnie said. “One of the soldiers’ friends, his mom runs a humane society in Ohio.”
Money was raised to bring the five puppies to the U.S. It costs about $3,500 per dog to get them here, she said.
“The soldiers there don’t have the money to do it,” Bonnie said. “Some are coming home to wives and children. They have expenses.”
Rosie flew in a dog crate from Kabul to Dubai before being put on a Delta air cargo flight to Atlanta, arriving in Milwaukee on June 18.
She had to clear customs, and Bonnie said all five of the puppies are in the U.S.
Rosie is an Afghan Kuchi dog, and Bonnie said her son chose the name “Rosie” for her, because it is both an American and Afghanistan name.
“She is kind of rosy and smiley. She is a very loving dog,” Bonnie said.
Her husband, Brian, describes Rosie as mellow but protective of her family. She enjoys going on their pontoon boat, riding in the car, going for walks and chasing moths.
Rosie joined the Anderson’s two other dogs and quickly adapted to her new family.
When Bonnie’s son got home, she asked him for a T-shirt that had his scent on it so she would have something for Rosie when she arrived.
Bonnie’s son is now stationed in the U.S., but it was Bonnie and Brian who had to pick up Rosie.
Bonnie placed her son’s T-shirt on the seat in their vehicle, and Rosie walked over and put her paw on it. “She took to us right away,” Bonnie said.
Rosie was healthy when she arrived and quickly gained 7 pounds during her first week here.
Read her story and see pictures of her on Facebook, under Rosie Anderson.
“This dog brought so much comfort to my son,” Bonnie said. “He’s a tough Marine, but he’s a very caring, loving young man. It felt good that he had something to love. I can’t thank Nowzad enough for helping us.”