This Iraqi dog befriends a
marine story is
about a Marine and His Miracle Dog submitted by Elise Cooper, Freelance
While in Iraq, Marine
Major Brian Dennis and an Iraqi stray dog, later named Nubs,
developed a friendship that turned into a lifelong
companionship. Major Dennis (along with Kirby Larson and Mary
Nethery) has since written a childrens book about his buddy:
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle
Dennis and his unit, part of
a Border Transition Team, were deployed to help train Iraqi
soldiers at a fort 15 miles east of the Jordanian/Syrian/Iraqi
border, traveling between the fort and their forward operating
base. During one of those visits, as Brian stepped out of his
humvee, a mid-size dog resembling a German shepherd came up to
the major. Nubs was the alpha dog of a pack of 12 to 15 strays.
Says Nethery: It was like the alpha dog meets the alpha Marine.
It is definitely fascinating how that happened.
between Dennis and the Iraqi stray dog was instantaneous and
surprising, since there was little reason for a wild dog to
trust a human. Dennis named the dog Nubs because an Iraqi
soldier had cut the dogs ears off to make him into a fighting
war dog tougher and more alert.
Dennis explains to PJM:
[The bond started] by the unit showing Nubs kindness. I dont
think that dog had ever experienced kindness from any person or
creature until he met us. The more time our team spent with
Nubs, the more he seemed to love us. Between border visits
(after two to three days the unit would leave for other
destinations, and return every 2 to 3 weeks) I was always
wondering if Nubs was okay: how was he doing?
passed Nubs would run after Brians humvee as they were leaving,
forcing the majors driver to lose the dog by speeding up. The
reason for this was that Brian could not violate the Marine
rule: pets are not allowed in combat zones because of the
possibility that the animal would have a disease which would be
passed on to the soldier.
During a winter visit to the
fort, Brian saw that Nubs did not come up to greet him. He was
gaunt and weak from a stab wound to his side that punctured his
lung. Says Brian: Some of the locals who didnt like us saw that
we had grown to like Nubs and they were just trying to get back
at us. We never found out who did it. But I told the local Iraqi
fort commander that if I found out who did it, I would do the
same thing to them that they did to Nubs.
reasoned that Muslim culture is not fond of dogs, unlike our
culture as evidenced by Major Dennis that wants to protect,
love, and care for domestic animals.
After trying to care
for Nubs as best he could, Brian once again had to leave. Two
weeks later the unit returned and saw the dog was healing well.
This is the miracle part of the story: after the unit left,
Nubs determined to be with Brian traveled a 70-mile stretch
in a two-day period, enduring major hardships. Nubs found
Dennis speculates: Dogs are smart and there are
many accounts of them tracking their owners or finding their way
home over long distances. Nubs knew which way we went, and he
just started walking. Maybe he tracked the Hummer or perhaps the
vehicles left a scent.
After being reunited with Dennis,
the unit decided to adopt Nubs. Says Dennis: Nubs was a huge
morale booster. Dogs just make people smile. They can brighten
your day in a pretty gloomy, tension-filled place.
was given a Marine collar, food, and love. Unfortunately, it was
not yet a happy ending: two soldiers not in the unit reported
Nubs. The unit was ordered to get rid of the dog, or else.
Knowing he was not going to lose Nubs again, Dennis successfully
raised, in two weeks, the $2,000 needed to bring Nubs to San
Diego, California. Nubs is currently staying with friends of
Dennis while he is deployed. Brian is expected to be permanently
home sometime this year.
Brian writes in the book: This
dog who had been through a lifetime of fighting, war, and abuse
was going to have a nice sunny life and would never be cold