Oregon Air National Guardsman reunites with dog befriended in Romania

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Vancouver resident Josh Boelter feels like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

“I said that last night,” recalls Josh. “I didn’t sleep very well just waiting for this.”

He and his wife, Sara, are at the cargo office for Delta Airlines. They’re waiting for a flight that originated in Bucharest, Romania. The newest member of their family is on board.

“I just posted on Facebook,” says Sara. “I put this whole blurb about how we were adopting this little dark-eyed blond Romanian baby.”

Her post is technically true. But they’re not expecting a human baby to come off the plane. Instead, they’re waiting to greet a 5-month-old puppy named Luna.

“I’m excited but I don’t know her,” says Sara. “I don’t know what her personality is. He (Josh) already does.”

Josh met Luna while stationed in Romania. He had just been deployed after his marriage to Sara in May of this year.

Luna was a wild, feral puppy. But according to Josh, she had an instant connection with him. When it came time to go home, Josh was looking for a way to bring Luna with him. That’s where SPCA International and their ‘Operation Baghdad Pups’ program comes in.

In 2008, the organization realized that members of the U.S. military often befriended local animals – dogs and cats -- wherever they were stationed. They began the program to get those animals moved back home when deployment ended.

According to the organization, more than 550 animals from countries all over the world have been rescued. There are members from every military branch represented. It’s not an easy process, but every request is considered regardless of location.

Luna was one of three dogs to arrive in Portland on Thursday night. She bolted out of the crate and immediately greeted Josh.

“She’s on American soil,” said Josh. “She’s going to live a really good life.”

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