Life can be lonesome for a soldier stationed far from home. No matter how many fellow soldiers surround you, you can’t stop missing home.
Soldiers are always grateful for “care packages” sent to them from the folks they left behind. Little reminders of the American life they are fighting to preserve.
Along with the cookies, candy, toiletries and other goodies that soldiers request, they ask for letters telling them about the life they’re missing with their families. Part of those families usually include the pets that couldn’t come with them.
Sometimes, soldiers make friends with the animals that cross their paths wherever they are posted. Some platoons adopt a pet to sort of be their mascot.
People in the mental health field have known for a very long time that animals are great for anyone who is suffering any kind of illness, depression or sadness. Petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure, release a relaxation hormone that relieves stress and anxieties and myriad other health benefits.
We heard of one little feral Afghani dog that changed the lives of an entire platoon of soldiers. And one soldier in particular.
Nick Pierzchala is a National Guard MedEvac pilot, who was stationed in Afghanistan. His job was to fly helicopters, evacuating wounded soldiers and other medical cases back to safety and treatment.
It is a very rewarding job, and Nick loves it. But, he couldn’t help missing the life he’d left behind.
Then, one day as he was walking with several of his friends in the desert, a little feral dog came running up to them. “This dog ran up to me, ran up to our group, and befriended us immediately,”
It was obvious she didn’t belong to anyone, and the guys were very surprised to find that she was so friendly. It is possible she was simply so hungry and thirsty that she decided that anything was better than starving to death.
Whatever her reasons, fate definitely guided her to that group of men that day.
Nick took her back to their hangar where he and his friends built her a small kennel. They named her Airys. They all took turns caring for her, loving her.
“She’d hang out with us. She was constantly with us.”
They all realized they were helping each other heal from the wounds of the war that surrounded them.
“It brought great morale to me and the whole group felt like a piece of home”
Then the day finally arrived that Nick was told it was time for him to fly back home to Florida. As excited as he was to go home, Nick couldn’t stop thinking about how much he would miss Airys.
His team told him they had decided that it would be better if Airys went home with him. None of them knew how much longer they would be staying. They also weren’t sure how much longer Airys was going to be allowed to live in the hangar with them.
It’s not quite as simple as just showing up at the airport with a dog in a crate when you are traveling from one country to another. The men had no idea how to go about the transporting. So, they called out for help.
Help arrived in the form of the International organization ‘SPCA’. They made it happen for Nick and Airys.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Nick went home, alone, but knowing that Airys would be following soon.
The night that Airys arrived in Florida was captured live by Fox 13. The emotion on that tarmac was unbelievably high. The crate that Airys had flown in from Afghanistan was finally unloaded onto the tarmac and dollied out towards Nick.
Nick worried that Airys would have been traumatized by the long journey she’d undergone, leaving the sands of Afghanistan to reach a tarmac in Florida. He fretted that she might not even remember him.
He worried for nothing. Airys’s tail never stopped wagging once she caught sight of Nick sorting through all the necessary paperwork for her to be transferred to him.
Once that was finished, and he opened the crate door, Airys spilled out into his arms. Although Nick noticed immediately that she had changed, “You got bigger!” he exclaimed, he immediately grabbed up her into his arms.
We wish Nick and Airys a long and happy life together. Nick’s profession is saving lives. Airys is an extremely lucky little dog that she was one of the lives he saved. Although, Nick says, she saved his right back.
Special blessings to all of the soldiers that befriend the massive numbers of animals that become displaced in war zones. They are sometimes the animals only hope for survival. This story proves that helping the less fortunate usually ends up helping you as well.
Source: Doggie’s Care