Here is his soldier’s story:
I first saw Bolt about a year ago when I arrived at my site. The guys on my team picked me up from the Helo Pad in a 4x4 vehicle, and on the way back to our tents I noticed two dogs running beside us. I asked one of the guys, “What’s the deal with the dogs?” He told me they were Bolt and Xena, brother and sister from the same litter, and were considered kind of the base dogs.
Xena was very fit and obviously well fed, while Bolt was skinny, malnourished, and very standoffish toward humans. Apparently the Germans living next to our space took care of Xena. They had built a dog house for her and fed her two to three times a day. Basically she was their dog.
Bolt was no one’s dog. While Xena had a home, Bolt was always left out of all compounds and had to sleep in the dirt and mud. Another guy on my site and I felt bad for Bolt and started to feed him and take care of him. Bolt seemed to really take a liking to me and soon he was following me everywhere I went.
Then before you knew it, Bolt put on some weight, started running around and playing more with Xena, and just looking like a normal happy dog.
Everything went well until winter came around. Since we were way up north we got a lot of snow and very cold weather.
I built Bolt a little house, found him some foam pads and a blanket, which seemed to keep him warm. But then we started getting hit with heavy blizzards and temperatures dipping down into the negatives.
At that point I asked the other three guys in our tent if they had any issues with me setting up a place for Bolt to sleep in my area of the tent since we had heat. Everyone loved Bolt. They agreed that so as long as he didn’t get into their areas, they were okay with it.
I put down a foam pad and one of my Redskins blankets under one of my tables and taught Bolt how to come in and out of the tent. He immediately laid down on his bed and slept the entire night without a problem. After that he would just come and go as he pleased, never once bothering anyone.
We got through the winter fine, but after winter the Commander said they were going to have to get rid of all the dogs on our base.
I can’t really get into why, but in a month or two they were going to start taking them off base. There really wasn’t anything I could say or do to change their minds.
A few months passed and no one really mentioned anything more about it. So we went along with our day-to-day life and things were going fine until I was awakened one day to the news that they were collecting up all the dogs.
I went out to say my goodbyes to Bolt and then he was gone. It was a pretty rough. Especially after seeing how confused he was when they came to take him. But they did say they were going to drop off the dogs in a nice village about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away. So I had a little peace of mind knowing he will be going to a nice village.
The next morning I started walking up to work at 0230 as usual, but this time without my little buddy. I got about half way there when out of nowhere Bolt came running up behind me in a dead sprint. Now remember, it was 2:30 am and I did not have a flash light so needless to say I was caught completely off guard. But there he was, tail wagging and happier than ever.
When we got to the office the two guys there were smiling, asking me if I saw Bolt. They said when the German’s dropped Bolt off and started making their way back to base, Bolt had run behind the convoy for about 10 miles and the Convoy Commander told them to stop and put Bolt in the back and they brought him back to base. This apparently was enough for the Base Commander to say Bolt could stay.
Shaun then posted Bolt’s adventure on his Facebook page and someone told him about the Nowzad organization and how they help Military and Contractors bring home pets.
He was able to contact Nowzad and after that – through the generosity of friends and donors of Nowzad and the Soldiers’ Animal Companions Fund – the money was raised to bring Bolt home.
Bolt’s journey home:
First Bolt made it from Shaun’s site to the Nowzad shelter in Kabul.
He was cared for there until time for his flight to the United States.
The following video shows Louise putting Bolt in his crate for his plane trip to Dubai. And then shows Bolt at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan being transported to his flight to Washington D.C.
While Bolt was in Dubai he enjoyed a break on his “layover.”
Then it was off to Washington D.C. and a reunion with Shaun, who had come home a few weeks before Bolt.
Shaun meeting Bolt when he arrived. The dog that ran twelve miles to be with him in Afghanistan had now flown many more miles to be with him forever.
Bolt rode home in the car lying on the same Redskins blanket that had kept him warm during that cold winter.
And it was soon to become the cover of a whole new bed.
It was a very long journey for a dog that loved a soldier. And the soldier who loved him back. Now Bolt and Shaun are together for good.