Nebraskan man, Syrian dog form lifelong bond on deployment

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A year ago, 34 Nebraskans from the Army National Guard Aviation Unit were being deployed to provide Medevac services in the Middle East. One soldier came home with more than just military experience, he came home with a dog he found on the base.

Sergeant Jake Woodward took Sam in in January.

“They brought her over and asked if we could take care of her,” said Woodward. ”She looked really rough, and then I said I would take care of her.”

Woodward nursed her back to health, letting her stay in his own tent in a cardboard box beneath the bed.

“I fed her with a syringe, I had some dehydrated milk,” said Woodward. “She was only three weeks old and I didn’t really know what to do.”

The two were soon fast friends.

“I took her with me all the time. She was always with me,” said Woodward. “I wanted her to be a good dog when she grew up.”

When Woodward was getting ready to leave in late April 2021, he wanted to take Sam home with him. He arranged for her to travel as a special package to an SPCA International kennel in Iraq. The SPCA got her on a flight from Iraq to Nebraska.

Woodward said Sam is still learning about her environment, particularly enjoying trees blowing in the wind, and chasing rabbits. The grass was a new experience, too.

“It was completely new, so she loved grass, she rolled around in it,” said Woodward.

Now the duo spends days outside, playing fetch, or as Sam likes to play it, keep-away. Woodward said she could run for days.

While the two started life thousands of miles apart, they couldn’t be any closer than they are today.

“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Woodward. “She is definitely family.”

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