U.S. Marine Sergeant Craig Grossi & Henry
I always knew I’d have a dog someday, but I never could have imagined the circumstances that brought us together. Our bond was forged in one of the world’s most challenging environments: a war zone.
My first moments with you made an immeasurable impact on my life. Between firefights with the Taliban, you took the opportunity to forage scraps of food near our base in the scorching mid-day sun. I’d seen you earlier when I was cleaning my gun and having a drink of water. You pranced around the battlefield like a mayor at a parade. But I didn’t allow myself to really see you until the uncertainty of life in combat had worn my mind raw—and that was when I needed to see you the most.
The bugs that infested your hide almost made me second-guess my decision as I approached you with a piece of jerky, but the peace in your eyes drew me closer. Then you did something that was as miraculous as it was unexpected: you wagged your tail.
I took a few more steps before crouching down and extending my offering. Despite your obvious hunger and lack of human interaction, you took the jerky from my hand with the grace and dignity of a show dog. I was astonished by your gentle nature, despite the conditions where you grew up—it was as if you’d ended up on an Afghan battlefield by some terrible mistake. As I rubbed the matted fur around your neck I felt a surge of warmth in my heart. I didn’t know it then, but I’d just met my very first dog.
Getting you home was my mission and failure was not an option. I had a lot of help and I’ll never forget the Marines and military personnel who were willing to risk so much to protect you. I didn’t know if I’d make it back from your home country, but as I watched your plane take off from Camp Leatherneck, bound for JFK Airport in New York City, I knew my time at war had been worth it.
In our years together since, you’ve been a constant reminder of what it means to be “stubbornly positive”. Not a day goes by that I don’t think back on our first moments, when a simple wag of your tail changed the course of my life forever. If you could find it within yourself to maintain a loving outlook on the world given your situation and genetic material, then how could I ever allow room in my life for negativity?
It is often said that dogs rescue their humans. I know that to be true, but in our case it seems you weren’t content with rescuing one person. Everyone who hears our story is forever impacted, just as I am. It is our new mission and I’m proud to share it with the world, together. Because you’ve done more than rescue me, you’ve reconnected me with my self and given my life purpose. There isn’t enough jerky in the world to thank you for that. But I know all you want is to be near me, and that is all I’ve ever wanted too.
I love you,