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Soldiers' Animal Companions Fund

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Hector's Story
 

Hector was one of the Magnificent Seven – a pack of dogs who took it upon themselves to protect and provide comfort to a small outpost of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

 


His soldier told us how their rescues began when he made his plea for help to bring Hector home:

When I first arrived at the remote NATO camp in Afghanistan that would be my home for the next nine months, I was surprised and pleased to learn that a small pack of dogs was counted among the residents of the camp. I had left my own spoiled dog at home when I deployed, and found that the affection and antics of the camp pack kept me from missing him so much. I had no intention of getting attached to any of these dogs. However, the pack leader, Red, quickly earned my admiration and respect.
 
Red guarded the gate as if paid to do it. He looked out for the other dogs and also provided coalition troops a sense of security. He took his "job" seriously and did not take kindly to allowing strangers into our inner compound. I quickly became attached to him and when base closure appeared imminent, I knew I could not leave him there at the mercy of some of the very strangers he had protected us against.
 
My team, working with the phenomenal Nowzad team, attempted to get Red and the puppy we called "White Dog," a/k/a Ghost, to Kabul and the safety of Nowzad's shelter. However, Red had deeply lacerated his rear leg shortly before departing for Kabul. Late on the morning that we sent them off to Kabul, I was devastated to learn that, as a result of his injury, Red had not made it…
 
Another dog, Hector, had also suffered a deep laceration shortly after we arrived. We had all been certain he would not survive; however, he had proved us wrong by recovering and returning to guard duty.
 
 
As time went on it was interesting to watch Hector, Red's "understudy", step up and take on the role of primary gate guard and protector of "his" soldiers and pack. Hector became a continuous presence at the entry control point, helping out the coalition force gate guards. He stood guard with me time after time, an agreeable companion and reliable team member.
 

We learned that Hector was a resourceful survivor. He also proved that he knew how to be intimidating when appropriate. Hector would alert the coalition forces at the gate anytime that someone he did not recognize was coming, which helped increase our base security.

I was determined not to get too attached again after losing Red, but Hector finally won me over the night I returned with a team member from another base. It was the middle of the night when we came back to our base from the airfield. Hector was at the gate "on duty." When he greeted me with a wagging tail and happy bark, I dropped to one knee and checked my pockets for some of the beef jerky that he loves so much. He was delighted at my return (and with the beef jerky, of course) and insisted on walking me all the way back to the building in which my team lives. I went in, dropped my gear and went back outside.

As I sat down on the ground beside him, Hector, who is a large dog, managed to climb into my lap. After a little petting and ear rubbing, he had fallen half asleep with his entire body draped across my lap.
 

It was at that moment I knew I had to try to save Hector.

Hector has been a faithful and protective gate guard, letting us all sleep a little easier at night knowing that he would (and several times did) alert us to anything unusual. However, more than that, he has been a loyal and affectionate companion who provides a taste of the comfort of home and the free "therapy" that only a loving dog can provide. He deserves a loving forever home and with the help of Nowzad and its tremendous supporters, that is what I want to give him.

Thanks to Nowzad’s supporters Hector’s soldier was able to give him that special home.

In March he arrived in Pittsburg.  His soldier’s mother wrote us:
 
“I wanted to let you know that we picked Hector up this afternoon in Pittsburgh -- he traveled well and was doing great when we arrived.  The picture below was taken in the airport cargo bay literally five seconds after Hector walked out of the crate and straight into Ben's arms.  They were both happy boys.”
 

Hector soon became acquainted with his new world.  His new “mom” (his soldier’s mother) sent us pictures of his first days.

“The snow photos were taken a day or two after Hector arrived in March.  He clearly was delighted to see something familiar and loved to lie down in the snow and make "snow angels" by moving his legs back and forth.”
 
 
 

She has also been kind enough to give us the following report of Hector’s adjustment to his wonderful new life in Pennsylvania:

“Later, the snow melted and he learned for the first time how very much he loves to lie in the green grass.”
 

“He also learned that deer often walk outside the window in the early morning, and can be seen taking up his post on the lounge in front of the window to watch for them.”
 

“A devoted cat hunter in his former life, Hector is now buddies with my cat -- my son couldn't believe the photo where they are nearly nuzzling each other.”
 
 
I learned that Afghan dogs, understandably, love to celebrate after rainstorms by running and splashing in pools of water.”
 

“Hector is a joy.  He is a very smart dog (my son says, "no kidding, that is why he is still alive").  Hector really wants to please and is relatively laid back.  He was a little underweight and quiet when he arrived, but as he gained weight and realized he had excess energy, his ornery, playful side came out.  He is now pretty comfortable with where he fits in the household.

He has an innate belief that it is his job to guard the house.  Early on, he insisted that the best spot for this was a central location in the kitchen, from which vantage point he could see four different doors to the house.  Now his Kuranda dog bed occupies that spot.”
 

“He loves the long walks we take every day and has proven that he is quite the hunter.  He has also started jogging with me in the evenings and loves it more than I could ever have imagined.

[Here are] a couple photos of Hector having a wonderful afternoon in the yard with his big knucklebone.  He has adjusted very well and is turning into a very content and happy boy with his tail often curled high over his back.”
 

“Hector is a happy boy and I have gotten quite attached to him in a short time.  He has shed most of the winter undercoat and his fur is smooth and glossy.  He is one handsome fellow and people are stunned to learn he was an Afghan stray.  All in all, well done, Nowzad and SACFund -- thanks for all you do to help soldiers and their families help these dogs.
I love my Afghan boy!”