Texas soldier recues Afghan puppy

Dallas Morning News/Houston Chronicle:

Seven months ago, the wild puppy roughing it in a small guard shack on a mountain in eastern Afghanistan knew only of unforgiving weather and the promise of combat.

But Wylie's three-month journey to America has opened her eyes to a brand-new life.

"When I took her outside for the first time, she laid her chin on the grass and looked around," said Steve Rodems, stepfather of Army Reserves Staff Sgt. Hannah Schlegel, who rescued Wylie from eastern Afghanistan. "She had never seen or walked on grass. She had never smelled flowers or looked at trees. It was a very sweet moment."

Now, the recently domesticated adolescent pup is fitting in nicely in Highland Village.

Schlegel rescued Wylie, the 10-month-old Afghan hound-shepherd mix, in December 2009. She found Wylie in a small guard shack on a mountain in eastern Afghanistan and smuggled her back to her base in Khost to protect the puppy from danger.

A month later, Schlegel began raising money to ship Wylie from Kabul, Afghanistan, through PayPal, an online money transfer service. Through the financial support of her family, friends and perfect strangers, she raised every cent needed for the more than 7,000-mile trip - a $4,000 plane ticket.

"It says a lot about people that even with everything going on at home, a simple story about a girl and her dog can still melt everyone's heart," Schlegel said via e-mail. "But it's not just my story anymore; it's the story of everyone who has donated to help bring her home."

The funds that were raised helped Schlegel arrange transport through the Afghan Stray Animal League. An Afghan drove Wylie to Kabul where she stayed in a kennel until her flight to Pakistan could be arranged. She flew to Islamabad and in May finally made it to the United States where she was met by Schlegel's parents, Steve and Nancie Rodems of Highland Village.

It was a three month trip. The dogs next trip will be to Northern Virginia when Schlegel finishes her deployment. It is interesting how soldiers get so attached to dogs in the war zone. This may be the first war with a Stray Animal League to help get the dogs back to our world.


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