A Marine Special Forces unit rescued Gus’ mother and her three pups back in December 2009 in the Farah province of Afghanistan. The pups had just been born when they were found, and the Marines brought the newborns and their mother back to Camp Bastion.
Unfortunately the small group quickly dwindled. The mother dog got loose, was taken for a stray on the base, and shot. Then one of the pups was accidentally run over and killed while sleeping under a Humvee.
That left Whitedog and Blackdog. When a new group of Marines replaced the group that had originally rescued them, they didn’t want the dogs around and threatened to shoot them.
Luckily for Whitedog he was rescued and sent to the States. Blackdog was taken to a site called Scaneagle – a site mostly run by civilians and two Naval Officers. There he was renamed Gus.
And soon after, he met the serviceman who would change his life – Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Henning.
According to Officer Henning, Gus soon made all the difference to him as well. He said, “My girlfriend had adopted a dog about a year before I left home. His name was Riley, and he was the most loveable dog in the world to me. When I came to Bastion and met Gus he instantly reminded me of Riley. I really missed home and Gus made it so that Bastion felt more like a home to me every day. Without him, I would have gone insane being stationed here for a year.”
He also appreciated Gus’s watchdog abilities. He said Gus was a very territorial dog and behaved very protectively. Anytime he saw someone he didn’t recognize, he would “go crazy.”
“It was very stressful out there,” Zachary Henning said. “To have an animal like Gus keep us company, reduced the stress…he warmed my heart and helped me survive mentally …”
Eventually Officer Henning’s group got a new Officer-in-charge who told Zach that if he didn’t get Gus off the base soon, he’d be euthanized. Zach felt he couldn’t let that happen. He said, “I made a promise to Gus that I'd take him home to a better environment so he could play with other dogs and enjoy lying on carpet and grass instead of concrete and sand.”
Gus soon found himself transported to the Nowzad shelter where he waited in safety until funds could be raised to get him home.
“ … since he has helped me survive out here, I'm now helping him survive by getting him home,” Zach Henning said. “I need to repay him."
In November 2011 Gus journeyed to New York as part of Operation American Reunite. By that time Officer Henning had been home for two months and had been waiting for Gus ever since his return.
From there Gus made the flight to Los Angeles – another leg of his journey to Officer Henning’s home in Arizona.
Here is Gus arriving at LAX.
And Officer Zach Henning coming to meet his flight.
And finally, here is Gus, happy in Arizona.
“I’ve been home for 2 months and I’ve been waiting for him ever since,” Petty Officer Zachary Henning told CBS. “He helped me survive out there and now I’m going to give him a home and allow him to survive now.”