In many war-torn areas like Iraq and Afghanistan stray dogs near military bases are commonplace. Mentally and physically exhausted soldiers and those strays find their way into each other’s arms for moments of safety and calm during the storm.
As a result, they form strong bonds and friendships that are beyond intense. Since the military has strict guidelines concerning pets – you can’t have them at all, many times those soldiers must say heart-wrenching goodbyes to the strays that have become like family
Now and then, however, thanks to help from some fantastic organizations, soldiers get to bring their best friends home.
US Army Reserve Sgt. Tracy McKithern noticed the mom dog and her puppy around the base in Iraq’s Kurdistan Province for weeks back in 2017. Like most of the strays there, the dogs looked malnourished and abused. So, with the help of a few other soldiers on the base, she took the pair under her wing to nurse them back to health.
In that time, she formed an extra-special bond with the puppy.
“She ran up to our convoy every day,” McKithern told NBC 6. “She was so tiny she would fall and trip all over herself to get to us.”
McKithern named the puppy Erby Kasima. She chose Erby after a nearby city located in Northern Iraq, and Kasima is the Arabic word for beauty and elegance.
ALL TOO SOON
All too soon, however, McKithern’s deployment was ending. She knew that she would have to leave Erby behind in Iraq, and it broke her heart. Like many of us do, McKithern expressed her regret on Facebook. She was mourning the fact that she had to leave the “sweetest little soul” behind.
The last thing she expected was to wake up to hope that she may be able to bring Erby home.
“One night I posted a pic of us on Facebook, with a caption that read something like, ‘I wish I could take her home,'” McKithern said. “I went to sleep, woke up and my friends and family had posted links to various rescue groups. I reached out to one of them, the nonprofit Puppy Rescue Mission, and they responded immediately.”
The only thing left to do was raise funds. With the help of the Puppy Rescue Mission and a crowdfunding campaign, McKithern did just that.
But then the unthinkable happened, she received new orders.
McKithern was dismayed when she received orders to ship back out the day after arriving home in Tampa from Iraq. She knew that it would be months before she got to see her best friend again, luckily her husband was stateside and able to drive to New York and get Erby off the plane.
But, would Erby remember McKithern, now that they were apart for so long?
Finally, on May 18th, seven months and 7,000 miles since it began, the reunion McKithern was waiting for finally happened.
Did Erby remember her battle buddy? See for yourself in the heartwarming video below.
On this Memorial Day, if you want to help another soldier rescue their battle buddy, visit the Puppy Rescue Mission How to Help page by clicking on the link.
Feature Image via YouTube Video