Toby and Friends’ Harrowing Rescue

By Lori Kalef, Program Manager It’s another year and what a kick off to 2017 it has been! While everyone was celebrating the countdown to the end of 2016, our team was working around the clock to rescue two beautiful dogs and one gorgeous cat from a U.S. military base in Egypt.  They belong to three extraordinary U.S. Soldiers whose lives have been changed by these four legged creatures they befriended while on deployment. “I want to rescue Toby because of the relationship we have built. He is a young dog that has been helpful to me and I want to give him a good life.” – U.S. Army SSgt. Clayton in Sinai, Egypt Every rescue mission we embark on reaps rewards, but they don’t come with out bumps along the way. We wish it was as simple as arranging their flights home and welcoming them on the other side, but every country has its challenges, especially those in conflict. Egypt is no exception and even though we had our amazing rescue representative on the ground, the obstacles this mission presented had me purchasing antacids near midnight. It can take months to arrange these rescues and it takes a plethora of individuals on the ground locally and stateside to coordinate the timing, export and import process, inoculations and so much more. With this particular rescue, the military had to be willing to transport the animals via military air due to the restricted civilian presence on base. Luckily Toby, a mixed breed pup with adorable freckles and a sweet kitty named Jasmine were brought over from Sinai to Sharm el Sheikh (our departure city) in time. But at the very last minute, we received word that Bounty, a cute little pup, was left behind due to spacing issues on the flight. We don’t get many chances at this so you can imagine how all of us were completely heartbroken; thinking the worst. We retired for the night after examining all possible options and we awoke to the greatest news ever. Unbeknownst to us, a few heroic Soldiers that couldn’t fathom Bounty being left behind pulled some strings and brought him to Sharm el Sheikh early the next morning! I am so lucky to witness heroes like these move mountains for dogs and cats. “On a deployment, anything that resembles home is priceless. Being away from everyone and everything you know, in a foreign land can be unsettling if not downright depressing at times. When Bounty was brought to my camp from an outpost, it was like Christmas in October…for the next 16 weeks or so we were inseparable! Bounty would go to the clinic with me for my 12hr shifts and back to my barracks to cuddle up and watch movies for the night. Not much is better than the unconditional love only a dog is capable of giving! Time off was spent running around outside, learning (and failing, lol) to walk on a leash, and chewing his fair share of my boots! He was lucky he was cute! …I’m still not believing this is really happening. I get to be this sweet puppy’s forever home. He rescued me when I needed him, and now I get to rescue him.” –U.S. Army Sgt. Leigh in Sinai, Egypt  The obstacles didn’t stop there though. There were some other last minute problems with the airline, but we all finally exhaled a sigh of relief when we got word that they were in flight and en route to John F Kennedy Airport in New York. As fate would have it, an eastern snowstorm came blustering through, but they were able to land safely. However, the connecting flights to their final destinations and forever homes were all grounded for several days. As Toby, Bounty and Jasmine settled into their warm quarters in New York, little white flakes fell from the sky, a completely foreign concept to our new furry foreigners! “Several months ago.. Jasmine [a stray cat] started showing up around our barracks. I seized the opportunity to feed her my girlfriend’s cat food. As time went on, Jasmine became more and more comfortable with me. I ended up buying a large bag of cat food and some toys for her, and she now sleeps on my bed at night. I am proud to say that I take care of Jasmine just as much as she takes care of me by helping me through the tougher times during my tour.” –U.S. Army Sgt. Harley, Sinai, Egypt  Today, Toby, Bounty and Jasmine have made it to their new homes and we can finally celebrate – all thanks to you – our generous supporters.