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Soldiers' Animal Companions Fund

Helping those who have helped us . . .

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Tony's Story

Tony began his life as one of Robo’s six puppies. His mother, Robo was taken in by a Marine based in northern Afghanistan. He met her shortly after his arrival there and told Nowzad,

‘”She was skin and bones and only came out at night when it was cooler. I couldn’t see her too closely at first because it was so dark but I could hear her struggling to breathe. When she started gaining our trust she started coming out more during the day and it was then that we saw her neck was badly cut and almost open. She took a liking to us. We called her Robo.”

Not much later, the Marines met her boyfriend, Whitefang. The two dogs had a strong friendship and Whitefang could often be seen cleaning Robo’s wounds. When Whitefang, who had become a loyal and valued companion to the soldiers in the robotics shop, was put to sleep following a change in policy, the Marines knew Robo was in danger as well. The started hiding her in the robotics shop.

Her Marine said, “Not much longer after that we noticed that Robo was pregnant as her belly kept getting bigger and bigger. We knew others were asking where she was and we did our best to hide and protect her – especially knowing she was about to give birth to Whitefang and her puppies. We felt we owed it to Whitefang to take care of her as best as we could. We could tell Robo missed him. She was always looking for him not knowing what happened to him.”

Robo eventually gave birth to six puppies.
Three girls and three boys.

All those caring for them were impressed with the beautiful white puppies.

“I have never seen a litter of such completely awesome puppies. Robo did an excellent job taking care of them and raising them and is a great mom to them. But we knew we had to get them off the base if they were to have a chance to survive. Every day they stayed here it was becoming more difficult to hide all of them. Word started spreading on base about the Marines’ dogs.
We were trying everything and asking people for help to get them out of here. Then we found out about Pen and Nowzad and thankfully everything started falling into place. We paid a local Afghan to drive mom and all six puppies off the base to the Nowzad shelter 10 hours away. We all care about them and believe they deserve a chance at life.”

Robo and her puppies made it safely to the Nowzad shelter, but at that point their futures remained unsure.
Robo herself eventually became the personal dog of Nowzad’s shelter manager, Louise, who loves her dearly.
Two of the puppies were adopted by one of the Marines who had cared for them while they were on base. Another puppy was adopted by a family living in Kabul.
Three of the puppies, however, still needed homes.
In 2012 Tony and two of his siblings, were fortunate to become part of Operation No “Buddy” Left Behind – an effort the Guardians of Rescue, a charity based in New York, undertook to fund and welcome ten Nowzad dogs to the United States.One of the Marines who had cared for the puppies, called the ultimate rescue of the remaining pups “a miracle.”
Tony arrived in New York on May 1st. And the Guardians immediately began the process of trying to match him with a soldier who would appreciate his unique background – and special significance.
Into Tony’s life came Sergeant First Class Sam Kessler, himself a veteran from the Afghanistan war. Sam was happy to offer Tony a home with his family in Pennsylvania.

For Sgt. Kessler, this dog is more than a pet. As he told the Guardians,
Tony is “a piece of my life.”
See a video of Operation No Buddy Left Behind here
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Saved by a soldier; and offered a home by another soldier.
Tony is a special dog who truly shows the power of our mission: helping those animals who have, in so many ways, helped our troops. And many of them, like Tony, continue to help as they become critically important parts of their soldiers’ lives.
Your donations not only supported the shelter that offered sanctuary to this dog and his mother and siblings, they also supported Tony as he grew up and eventually made it to the wonderful home he now has with the Kesslers.