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Homecoming!

Rufus and Target are here
Rufus reunited with Chris
 
 
Many of you may now be familiar with the story we’ve been featuring from Robert’s Cause.  It’s the story of Georgia National Guardsman Chris Duke and his dog Rufus.
While stationed in Afghanistan, Chris and others in Bravo Company’s 48th Brigade adopted three stray dogs – Sasha, Target, and Rufus.
As Sgt. Duke has described, the dogs were a great comfort to the men, providing joy and a source of solace that helped tremendously with homesickness. 

At about 11PM on a quiet evening in February, the dogs suddenly began barking furiously.  A suicide bomber, strapped with 25lbs. of explosives, was trying to enter the barracks.  Barking loudly, the dogs rushed to attack him.  Instead of entering the barracks and potentially killing the 50 soldiers inside, the bomber couldn’t get past the dogs and was forced to detonate his explosives in an entry corridor.

When the attacker blew himself up, five soldiers sustained injuries and Sasha suffered wounds that caused the loss of her life.  But fortunately, thanks to the actions of the dogs, no soldiers were killed and Rufus and Target were able to be nursed back to health.  It was soon discovered that Target was pregnant and she later gave birth to five puppies.  Sasha had left behind a couple of puppies, now motherless, and Target took these under her care as well, nursing them along with her own.

When Sgt. Chris Duke, who was among the injured, returned to his unit, Rufus became his constant companion.  “I firmly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him,” Sgt. Duke said.
 
But inevitably when Duke’s deployment ended, he had to leave his buddy, his canine lifesaver behind.  He was very worried about Rufus, Target and the puppies.  He feared that the soldiers in the Army National Guard Unit that replaced his would not want the dogs they had left behind and would not care for them. 
Fortunately Spc. Chris Chaisson took over the care of the dogs. His fiancée Anna Cannan was very touched by the story of the dogs and the puppies, which by now had become extremely close to the soldiers on base.  She started Puppy Rescue Mission.  to try to fund  the rescue of all the puppies – “The Lucky Seven.”  Through an absolutely amazing effort she was able to gain the support of many, many donors and incredibly all seven made it to the United States in only a few months. 
 
With Rufus and Target still left in Afghanistan, Duke applied to A Warrior’s Wish for the funds to bring them to the United States too.   This program, funded by Hope For The Warriors, recognizes and honors the emotional needs of our combat veterans. 

A Warrior’s Wish granted Chris Duke’s wish.  They covered the $3,000 in travel costs for each dog and Nowzad Dogs made the arrangements to get the dogs out of Afghanistan.
 

On July 29th  at 1PM in the Pet Airways Lounge in Atlanta’s Dekalb Peachtree Airport, Duke was reunited with Rufus and Target. 
Target will stay briefly with him then move on to Arizona to live with another soldier from the base.  Rufus will stay with Duke.
“I owe my life to these dogs and my wish is to … give them the best life I can,” Duke said. 

With Rufus now safely at home with Duke and his wife, it really is a cause for celebration.  “To think I’m going to have him for the rest of my life – it’s exciting.”  
Exciting – and wonderful to be able to rescue the dog that rescued him!
 
 
Click here for the CBSNEWS.COM video clip about the homecoming