Staff Sgt. Edwin Caba has a new roommate this week, one who traveled 7,000 miles and through three countries to reach Long Beach.
Last week, a group of National Guard soldiers were reunited with a friend from battle — Sheba, a stray dog the team befriended while deployed in Afghanistan. Local animal rescue organizations arranged to bring Sheba, and her seven puppies, to the states for the soldiers to adopt.
Caba said that his group met Sheba while serving in western Afghanistan, and she quickly made herself a part of the team.
“She’d walk out on patrol with us, bark at other dogs,” he recalled.
But things got difficult when Sheba had seven puppies. Caba said she was so thin and sick from caring for all of the dogs, that he and the other soldiers would feed Sheba their meal rations and beef jerky to try to nurse her back to health. Caba said their families and friends even started sending bags of food to help.
“The companionship was great, but it was so stressful,” Caba said of caring for the dogs.
After bonding with Sheba and her puppies, the soldiers decided that they wanted to try to bring the dogs back to the states with them. Caba was connected with two animal rescue organizations through a friend, Save-a-Pet and Guardians of Rescue, animal rescue organizations that run a program called Paws of War. The program helps reunite soldiers with dogs they adopted in battle zones, and also trains dogs to be service and companion dogs for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
“There were a lot of legs to this journey,” said Dori Scofield, founder and president of Save-a-Pet, who took on the challenge of bringing Sheba and her pups to the United States.
First, she said, the dogs were brought to Nowzad, a shelter in Kabul, where they were prepared for their journey, given vaccinations and waited out the quarantine period. Meanwhile, on Long Island, Scofield was busy raising money to pay for the dogs’ journey.