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This fundraiser ended on 08/31/10

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Remembering Bear... In five months, he touched the lives of so many, brought joy to all of us, and showed us that even in a time of war, there is always room for love.

Bear... The puppy who changed my life forever...

Originally, I began asking friends and family to donate to bring Bear back to the United States.   Bear was shipped to Pakistan on 17 May 2010.  He stayed at an animal clinic there, and Pam Constable, the founder of the Tigger House, was there with him.  He was supposed to fly to New York on 22 May.  Unfortunately, Bear had a heart attack the morning of 19 May, and passed away.  The autopsy revealed he had a congenital pericardial disorder, which gives most canines a life span of 6 months.  I ask now that you continue to donate and spread the word so we are able to help other animals at the Tigger House, and honor how Bear has touched the lives of so many around the world.  Thank you. 

In late January of 2010, I deployed to Afghanistan for the first time. Friends of mine have deployed to Afghanistan before, but I don't think I was truly prepared for what it would be like. What I absolutely wasn't prepared for was falling in love with a little white puppy three weeks into my deployment.

When I got to my location in early February, I noticed the Afghan guards of my Forward Operating Base had a small white puppy with them. The puppy looked like a little polar bear cub, and I was immediately enamored with him. A freezing spell was projected, and we were expected to get three or four inches of snow on the ground. With the impending freeze, the guards asked if I would watch the puppy for a few nights, as they didn't think he would live through the night outside. I made a bed out of some blankets and sweaters for the puppy in my room, which ended up with him curling up next to me on my bed. (Now who didn't see that one coming?)

Over the course of the next month, the guards let me keep the puppy, who I named Bear, for longer and longer periods of time. An interpreter explained to me that Bear was to be a fighting dog, he had been brought from the mountains of Northern Afghanistan when he was just two weeks old. His ears had been cut off when he was a newborn, as the ears and the tail are generally the first things the other dogs go for in a fight. I was horrified that this poor puppy, who was malnourished and half dead, would have to fight other dogs. He would be ripped to pieces.

I was not ready to give Bear up to be a fighting dog, not after I had cared for him and nursed him back to health. I was in tears the day one of the guards came to take him back for good, and through the help of an interpreter, I explained I could provide a good home for Bear back in America, he would be happy there. $150 and an Old Navy sweater later, Bear was mine.

I began to contact various animal rights organizations, to include the International SPCA, who has been running a very successful program in Iraq called Operation Baghdad Pups. Unfortunately, the SPCA did not have anything specific to Afghanistan, and was unable to provide any assistance. I contacted a few other groups, and finally got a reply from a woman who worked with an NGO in order to start a rescue shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan. Pam Constable, a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, started the Tigger House in Kabul in 2004, and has been instrumental in helping a number of servicemen and women rescue dogs and cats from Afghanistan. Pam and I have been in contact for the last few months, where she has agreed to get the process moving to ship Bear from Afghanistan back to the United States.

Bear will be five months old at the end of May, and he will be shipped to my parents house in San Antonio as soon as possible. It will cost $450 for the shelter to take Bear from Kabul to Islamabad, Pakistan. From Pakistan, he will fly to an airport in Europe, from Europe to JFK in New York. After arriving in New York, Bear will have one more leg to travel to get to my parents in San Antonio, Texas, until I return home from Afghanistan late in the summer. The flight costs will be at least $3500, and that is not including the flight from JFK to San Antonio.

To offset some of the cost, I ask that you become a part of Bear's family in my endeavor to bring him back to the United States. There are a lot of charities out there for animals, but this is a chance to make a very personal contribution to an incredibly worthy cause. The Afghan people view dogs as the lowliest animal, most are used in dog fights, others are simply shot. Children are raised to throw rocks at the street dogs, they often kick and beat them simply because they are there. By helping rescue Bear, you are sending a positive message that the war in Afghanistan has many faces, not all being human. I strongly encourage you to become part of something bigger, to be part of an opportunity for a fresh start and a new life. For this, you all have my deepest thanks and respect.

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