By Clinton French, ABC News Tampa, FL

June 16, 2017 4:50pm

TAMPA, Fla. - A Spring Hill soldier and a dog he adopted in Iraq have been reunited.

Nick Pierzchalski was a black hawk pilot on a small base where stray dogs would sometimes wander. He and his fellow soldiers took care and adopted the young female stray, naming her Airys.

"She was a part of a pack of dogs, and she came running up to us after a crew came off the flight line," Pierzchalski said.

That was late last year. He estimates she was only a few months old. The soldiers fed her some Vienna sausages and gave her a bath. She then decided to abandon her pack and stay with the soldiers. They built her a kennel and ordered dog food off of Amazon.

"I didn't do any leash training with her over there. But she would stay with us," he said.

Nick says the Airys quickly became a source of joy for the soldiers. A bright spot in the shadow of war.

"We all had pets at home. Just to bring a little slice of home to us over there, it was the world to us." he explained.

While overseas, Nick began researching methods of getting Airys back to the US. He filled out an 8 page application through SPCA International, who took care of the rest. While Nick came home in March, SPCAI had handlers care for the dog, they got her up to date on vaccinations and observed her for the past two months in Iraq. She was then flown to JFK International Airport then to Tampa. She arrived late last night. SPCAI paid for everything. 

"I didn't think it was going to happen," Nick said. "She's part of the family now."

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