Saturday, November 26, 2011


One day as the soldier prepared to go on patrol in Afghanistan a dirty, sad-eyed mutt walked up and touched something in him. The shy, brown and white pooch, with a dark patch around the nose was something precious and good surrounded by poverty, hatred and war. "I had all my gear on and was about to go on patrol with 12 other marines when she just came up," Van Alstine said. "I looked at her and she looked at me. I pulled a Clif Bar out and set some down. After that it was like we were attached to the hip."

Van Alstine took Chloe into his tent, groomed her daily and fed her is own rations. She was always by his side on the base and walked next to him on every foot patrol. She couldn't come on the vehicles, but when we left she would sit right behind where the trucks park and lie down," he said. She'd still be lying in the same area when we came back, sometimes as long as 18 hours later."

Chloe began to guard the base and protect the troops. She was like the mascot, the moral booster. "She slept in my tent, but we all fed her." Even though no one from his platoon was killed, there were casualties. "Not everybody does well in those types of situations, I think all dogs have that sixth sense. If anybody wasn't doing well she would she would put her head on them and just close her eyes. She was the one thing that no matter how bad the day was she was our best friend."

Dogs are not respected in Afghanistan. There are hundreds of stray animals that must hunt and scrap for food, endure the scorching desert sun and freezing winters and generally live by their wits.

Ward Van Alstine started making arrangements to adopt the dog so we could bring her to the U.S.. He was going to be leaving for home and he worried about leaving Chloe behind. He had to leave Chloe at the base for her to be placed in the Nowzad kennel in Kabul. The day he left she definitely knew something was up. It was a sad day. "I got up extra early and just hung out with her for about two or three hours. She put her head in my lap and just laid there with me. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. When I got in the truck, she just went right back to her spot and looked at me. It was hard."

Chloe was flown to the United States with 15 other animals adopted by U.S. soldiers November 16th by American Airlines, free of charge.

Van Alstine said "Chloe knows exactly what I went through. Not everybody made it home in my mind until she made it back."

San Antonio Express News

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