When U.S. Marine Craig Grossi saw a stray dog sitting in a military base in Afghanistan, he could have never imagined that this moment would be the beginning of an epic rescue story.
In 2009, Craig’s unit was deployed to Afghanistan’s Sangin District to fight the Taliban. His first few days there were spent in fierce firefights, but once the fighting subsided, he was able to look around the base.
That’s when he noticed a small dog that had made a home for himself in some bushes.
The Marines were warned not to approach any stray dogs because most were aggressive. But, Craig could tell that this little dog was different. Craig grabbed some beef jerky and cautiously approached the dog.
The dog was covered in bugs and had clearly not interacted much with humans, but to Craig’s surprise, he wagged his tail and politely took the food. Craig scratched behind the dog’s ears, and when he walked away, the dog followed him.
“I feel a little poke at my ankle, I look down, and there he is, following me,” Craig told The Dodo. Craig’s friend on the other side of the compound shouted, “Looks like you made a friend,” but Craig heard, “Looks like a ‘Fred.’” That’s how the little stray dog got his new name.
From that moment on, Craig and Fred were inseparable. Fred would hang out with Craig at the base, and he would also go with the Marines when they went to check on nearby civilians.
During those secret missions, the smart little dog never made a sound. This showed the other Marines at the base just how intelligent he was, and they began to appreciate him as much as Craig did.
Unfortunately, Craig soon learned that he was being deployed from the base. He wanted to take Fred with him, but if he was caught, he would have been put in jail and Fred would have been put down.
Still, he decided it would be worth the risk if Fred followed him onto the helicopter during deployment. And sure enough, as Craig was getting onto the helicopter, he felt a familiar poke at his ankle. Fred wanted to come too. So Craig put him in a duffle bag and smuggled him out of the base.
When they got to their new base, Craig saw that the shipping company DHL had set up a store there. He went in and asked “hypothetical” questions about shipping a dog, but the workers didn’t fall for it. They told Craig to bring his dog in.
He brought Fred over, but he didn’t have time to put together the paperwork necessary to ship Fred to his parents’ house in Virginia before he was sent into the field. The kind-hearted DHL workers said they would look after Fred while Craig was deployed.
While he was in the field, Craig was badly injured from a rocket launch, resulting in him spending weeks in the hospital. The whole time, he could think of nothing but Fred.
Once he was well enough to leave, he raced over to the DHL Store. He was relieved to see Fred happily playing soccer with the workers there.
Craig was finally able to put together the paperwork to send Fred to his new life in Virginia. And then, three months later, Craig was reunited with Fred in the United States.
Since they’ve gotten back from Afghanistan, Craig and Fred have traveled around the country together, telling their story. Craig is also writing a book about their journey. He frequently shares snippets from their day-to-day life on Fred’s Instagram.
This amazing story shows the powerful bond between a dog and a human. And, the lengths both went to so they could spend their lives together. To learn more about Fred’s incredible rescue, check out the video below.
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