Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soldier Reunited With Dogs That Saved His Life

ATLANTA -- A soldier from metro Atlanta was reunited with two stray dogs that are credited with saving his and other soldiers' lives in Afghanistan.
"It's surreal," said Sgt. Chris Duke of Newnan. "I can't believe how good he looks. I'm amazed that he lived. I really didn't expect it."
Rufus and Target, two stray mutts that befriended some U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, arrived at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport on Thursday afternoon. The dogs, along with a third one, foiled a suicide bomber trying to sneak into the soldiers' barracks.
The dogs started barking incessantly as the bomber approached. The barking took the suspect by surprise.
The explosives did go off and several soldiers, including Duke, were hurt. However, the troops said it would have been much worse if the bomber got inside their quarters.
Rufus and Target were badly injured in the explosion, but several animal advocacy agencies helped nurse them back to health and brought them to the U.S.
"I'll always automatically relate him directly to Afghanistan, so to see him in the States is a shock really," Duke said.
Hope for the Warrior, an organization that works with soldiers and their families, was among the groups that got involved with the mission to get the dogs to the U.S.
"Oh i cried," said President Robin Kelleher. "We were crying on the car on the way over here. You can't help but not just be absolutely touched by this beautiful story."
Duke said that he plans to take Rufus to a nearby lake to see if he can swim. The soldier has also received permission to bring the dog to the fire station where he works.
"He means the world to me, and I'm definitely going to make sure he's taken care of for the rest of his days," he said. "He's definitely going to enjoy life from here on out."
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