Reposted from NBC 7 San Diego: https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Marine-Reunites-with-Stray-Dogs-He-Adopted-from-Iraq-483546201.html
By Ashley Matthews
A local Marine was reunited Wednesday with three stray dogs he fell in love with while deployed in Iraq.
Once roaming the Iraqi desert scrounging for food and suffering abuse at the hands of some locals, Rooster, Hesko and Wendy are on their way to forever homes.
Captain Kyle Watkins said it’s been a months-long journey for the pups, bouncing around from place to place along their journey in the ASPCA’s Operation Baghdad Pups.
Now he can’t wait to give them good meals, warm beds and seemingly endless property to roam on his farm. He adopted Hesko and Wendy, and another Marine claimed Rooster.
For Captain Watkins, who grew up around dogs and had several at home while he was deployed, Rooster, Hesko and Wendy were more than just a piece of home in a foreign land. Watkins said that in a way, the dogs served too, roaming the perimeter fence line and alerting him and his fellow Marines when anyone came near.
"I'd been telling my wife about these dogs and she finally said, ‘Fine. I know these dogs mean a lot to you. Bring as many home as you can.’ So, we did,” Watkins said.
Watkins and his team started exploring ways to get the dogs back to the states, and that’s when they learned about Operation Baghdad Pups.
An email to the project coordinator set the plan in motion. The Marines did some paperwork and the dogs were scooped up.
“It was really the SPCA that did most of the work,” Watkins said. “We just corralled them into an area and they loaded them into a truck and off they went to Baghdad.”
Watkins said he was proud of the fact that he was able to take as many as he could.
The dogs will have companions and a large area to play, which Watkins hope will help with the socialization process and transition to a new life.
“They weren’t really treated well over there by the locals, so they’re not really big people dogs out there, but a few of them really warmed up to us and I think that’s because we were nice to them,” Watkins said.