A month into their deployment at a base in southern Afghanistan, a company of Marines met a dog they never expected to see. They had heard of him from a previous company who told the story of finding him starving and flea-ridden when he was about two months old. They had cared for the dog and nursed him back to health, but since military regulations forbid him to be housed on base, they had hidden him at a remote site. Unfortunately there he was attacked, had his head crushed with a rock, and dragged himself off, -- assumedly to die in the 120 degree heat.
Amazingly this dog survived and returned to the only home he had known, the base where he had first found help. The new Marine Company – the 81st – welcomed him home, cleaned him, brushed his coat, shared meals with him, and named him “Kujo.” He became a companion to them all, meeting the first patrol of the day, walking tirelessly by their sides, and leaning against the nearest Marine when they stopped to rest. He soon sported a collar that read “Kujo, K9 Defender, Eighty-Ones.”
Kujo became a tremendous source of comfort, joy, and love to all the Marines who knew him. At eight months old he was a gangly happy dog with enormous paws that could put his stand on his hind legs and reach the shoulders of a 6’3” Marine.
But as their deployment wound down, these Marines worried about Kujo’s fate. Considering the attitude toward dogs in Afghanistan, they knew Kujo, who would run hopefully toward anyone in camouflage, would not last long once their company left.
A Marine mother responded to her son’s plea, “Mom, you’ve got to save Kujo.” She found Nowzad Dogs charity, raised the money for Kujo’s rescue, and even found a wonderful home for him in central Texas with a Marine family who had a large ranch. Her son’s responsibility was to get the dog to the shelter where Nowzad would handle his rescue from there.
Her son arranged Kujo’s transfer to the shelter but the day before he was to leave the route to the shelter was deemed too dangerous and his transit was no longer allowed. This Marine sat outside the base with Kujo, rubbed his tummy, told him “Sorry” over and over. He was devastated.
The next thing his Mother received was an email from Nowzad saying that they had not given up. Within 24 hours Nowzad found a local driver to transport Kujo from the base and across the dangerous route to the shelter.
Kujo made the journey to the shelter and from there to the United States. He is now living happily in Texas with a Marine family that were ecstatic to welcome him and to give him the loving home he deserves.