By Mark Du Lac, U.S. Air Force TSgt Ret. & Lockheed Martin Aircraft Weapons Maintenance Instructor in Iraq
I want to share my story of Rooster, the Iraqi dog with you.
I went to Iraq for a one-year contract for work; away from my family and knowing no one. We have always had dogs as a part of our family, and at that time we had four in Florida. I went to work one day, and someone said there were puppies next door in the vehicle maintenance hangar ran by the Turkish mechanics. Me being the dog guy that I am, went over immediately to find that these guys had found and taken in three puppies from the same litter and made them their own.
From that time till I left, I helped take care of them, feed them, bathe and play with all three. Of course, I was most drawn to the runt of the group who was and is my Rooster. He was afraid and unsure of people period, seeing how he was a wild dog living on a military base with an expectancy to survive not much past a year in the conditions he was born into.
The men who took them in gave them the best care they could with what they had available. There were no Home Depots or PetSmarts. They built doghouses, a fenced in area and eventually a good size gated pen. Good thing they did because with word spreading amongst the other contractors on base, the dogs became more popular and had many visitors. The three original dogs turned into 16 in one pen and we took care of them with what we had. Lots of folks pitched in - whether it was buying toys and bringing them back from their R&R or feeding them leftovers from their meals. Some simply came just to be and play with them, filling that void…missing their pets at home.
We would bring them food for breakfast and it was a great way to start our mornings feeding them. They knew we were coming every morning and reacted to the white takeout trays filled with breakfast for them. Of course, the whole scenario took place again for lunch. We were even fortunate enough to get a few bags of dog food for them, which was hard to get!
Making friends with the deployed contractor veterinarian was an essential part of this story. She not only told me about the SPCA International sending animals home for military and contractors deployed to these locations for free, but she also gave up some of her personal time to look at the pups and help us keep them as healthy as possible. To me, this was the most amazing thing I could possibly learn and so the process began by asking permission from the men who found them if I could take Rooster home to the U.S.
They were hesitant at first, but they agreed, and they knew he would have a much better life with me. My decision led to others wanting to do the same. With unbelievable efforts by the SPCA International and their worldwide team, all 16 puppies were taken to a better facility north of us where they would do their in-country quarantine, receive vaccinations and be properly taken care of until it was time to make that trip to the US. Mind you, all provided by the SPCA International at no cost to the person wanting the dog.
Without the amazing services and selfless efforts provided by the SPCAI, none of this would have ever happened. The program is financed by donations from countless generous individuals who all believe in the same thing; that every animal deserves a chance to live a good life. SPCAI is an incredible organization saving animals all over the world. Just in Iraq alone they have saved over 700 dogs and cats, that are now with their new forever families throughout the U.S.
I am so grateful to everyone involved in Rooster’s rescue and to the people who I have never met who worked so hard to get my puppy home safely and healthy! I cannot stress enough that none of this would happen without generous donations to SPCA. Big or small - it all counts and puts big hearted animal loving people with the pets they found, adopted and wanted to have as their own in a better place.
Rooster is now in Florida with his new K-9 family and humans - five dogs now total. I would not have it any other way, this dog made all the difference in my life the last three months in a not-so-friendly and unforgiving place.
Thank you with all my heart to each and every one who was part of Rooster’s amazing journey - mostly to the SPCA International organization. Keep doing that great stuff you do, one animal at a time!
Mr. D. “Roosters Dad”