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In war-torn Afghanistan, special forces soldier Aaron Eleby saved the life of a puppy — and he says the dog did the same for him.
Eleby and the fluffy white pup, Yakkul, have since been reunited with the help of an upstate New York charity.
Eleby, of Valatie, N.Y., said he found Yakkul while on a mission.
“We were at a place and those people over there didn’t really deserve to have any dogs in the first place, among other things,” Eleby told WTEN-TV News. “I saw him after seeing the other dogs, and the way they treat their other dogs over there, and it’s atrocious. They are guard dogs, they don’t eat much.”
Eleby didn’t ask anyone, he just knew he had to take the puppy home or the dog would die.
“He was literally looking up, like, ‘What are you going to do man?’ Ya know, like, ‘What are you going to do next? It’s your call,’ ” he told WTEN-TV. “He just gave me a look, — stone cold — just a three-week-old pup.”
Eleby said he fed Yakkul with chewed up beef jerky, and in return, the dog helped soften the effects of war.
“We got really close,” Eleby told WTEN-TV. “It was bad, We ran twice as many missions as anyone else in the country. So coming home to him put it out of my mind.”
Family, friends and the Albany TV station’s Pet Connection raised $4,000 to pay for the dog’s journey to Eleby’s home in upstate New York.
“We were actually gone for two weeks straight on a mission and I came back and the money was raised,” Eleby said.
Yakkul traveled with an armed military escort through Afghanistan to the Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul before flying 6,000 miles to JFK Airport in New York.
While Eleby is overseas, Yakkul will live at his parents’ home, where the two were recently reunited.
“When I walked in and saw him, it was awesome. I’m not gonna say a tear came to my eye, but it was hiding back there,” he told WTEN-TV. “It was really good to see him again.”