Getting any puppy loved and hugged by an American soldier from the mountains of Afghanistan to the soldier’s home in the United States take a lot of work and cooperation, and some money. But dogs once cursed as strays in Afghanistan find themselves loved once they attach themselves to an American service member, including Battle Company troops. Some are lucky enough to get a new home and become an American dog.
This time the center of attention was a puppy, Charlie, whose soldier is Pfc. Steven LeMaire.
We don’t have the whole story of how Charlie entered this soldier’s life yet (hint) but with a full family of LeMaires helping, Charlie landed at Seattle, Friday, Oct. 19th, and then enjoyed the care, attention and hosting of Burien Veterinary Hospital and Dr Erin Witty, plus care from volunteers Carol A. Reddell, and Anne Howley. Then the next morning, Charlie boarded another plane to begin the final leg of his journey to a new home in Iowa.
“It was so much fun welcoming Thor, Alfalfa and wee Charlie to the USA today. Thank you to the military folks who fell in love with them and the families who are opening their heart and homes to these awesome pups! Paw Salute to all!” — Anne Hawley
This rescue effort for Charlie was under the auspices of the Puppy Rescue Mission, great folks in Celina, Texas. Please visit their website at Puppy Rescue Mission. With donations from many of us, our soldiers will have their four-legged partners to love again when they get home in a few short weeks.
Finally on Saturday, Oct. 20, 12012, Charlie arrived in Minneapolis and was picked up by the LeMaries and driven to his new home on an Iowa farm.
There is more, however, to Charlie’s arrival story.
Sometime ago when Frank mentioned that their farm was near Nashua, Iowa, wasn’t far from Minneapolis and that they might drive up to the Twin Cities some day this fall, I recommended he add some time to his travel plans to include lunch at a special place near my hometown (Howard Lake, Minnesota, only two miles from the farm where I was born). They made that trip Saturday, Oct. 20th, and before Charlie arrived they enjoyed lunch at this farm-based restaurant in the middle of a rural orchard (really!)
“So we went to Carlson’s Orchard, walked in the door and there was a sign ‘Frank Lemaire check in at front desk.’ What a surprise!”
“Dr. Jerry Montgomery had called ahead and got us one of their world famous pies. That place was amazing. Little Afghan Charlie is a dream 🙂 Thank you all for your generosity and kindness — at Carlson’s Orchard Bakery and Restaurant,” Frank said.
Mr.and Mrs. Joe Carlson, the orchard’s owners, presented Frank with one of their pies as a gift honoring Steven’s service in Afghanistan even though I had arranged to cover the cost with my credit card (they declined my offer). “Awesome; such wonderfully nice people there and the food was terrific,” Frank said.
Let’s meet the family:
Now Charlie is on local television:
Click here to view in a separate tab–> KIMT-TV story about Charlie.
Broadcast October 25, 2012, on KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa
Reported by Shane Delaney
NASHUA, Iowa – The saying goes “A dog is a man’s best friend,” and that couldn’t be any truer in this story.
Army Pfc. Steven Lemaire of Nashua is currently serving overseas in Afghanistan, and while there he met a four legged friend he decided he couldn’t live without.
“We were online and he said, ‘Oh look at this puppy,’ and he took some pictures and shared the pictures with us,” said Frank Lemaire, Steven’s father.
Steven told his dad about how he found the dog, Charlie, one day while out on patrol. Steven was originally going to just hand the dog off to the next unit but that didn’t happen.
“Earlier that month one of his buddies had been killed and he took it kind of hard,” Lemaire said. “He wasn’t happy you could just tell he wanted it to be over but when he got Charlie you could see he was chipper.”
Steven knew he had to get Charlie back home to Iowa and he found an organization willing to help. The family welcomed Charlie home this past weekend.
“The first day, I don’t think he’d ever seen a cat and grass, he had never seen grass until he got to Minnesota,” Lemaire said.
Now that Charlie is in the United States he’s giving that same kind of support he gave to Steven to his family right here in Iowa.
“They brought in the kennel at the cargo part where we picked him up and I instantly started crying because it’s like I got a piece of my brother home,” said Gabrielle Lemaire, Steven’s sister.
Gabrielle isn’t surprised her brother connected so well with Charlie, even while in harm’s way.
“It’s typical Steven because he’s warm-hearted, if he finds something he loves he’s going to work to get it,” Gabrielle said.
And as this family gets used to having their newest member by their side, they know this dog will always be more than just a pet.
“That is a care package they provided for my son that he will have for a lifetime; Charlie may not live past 15 years but the memories are there forever,” Lemaire said.
Steven is due to come home in a couple months, just in time for Christmas. The organization that got Charlie back to the U.S. is called the Puppy Rescue Mission. They, along with donors across the country, help bring back numerous dogs that soldiers rescue overseas.