NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There was an emotional reunion on Wednesday for U.S. troops and the dogs they grew to love while deployed in Afghanistan.

CBS 2’S Cindy Hsu was at John F. Kennedy Airport, where the stray dogs finally made it home.

The hugs and smiles said it all. U.S. troops were reunited with the stray dogs they found in Afghanistan.  Petty Officer Zachary Henning was deployed for a year, but it wasn’t a true homecoming until Gus made it.

“I’ve been home for 2 months and I’ve been waiting for him ever since,” Henning said. “He helped me survive out there and now I’m going to give him a home and allow him to survive now.”

Specialist Sheila Schaffer said the stray dogs give nothing but love and that’s how they’re saving lives.

“It’s not always saving from an IED or a bomb. A lot of time with soldiers, we have a lot who commit suicide from depression, it’s saving our spirits too. It doesn’t have to be a physical save, it’s a spiritual save,” Schaffer said.

Sergeant Pen Farthing is a former British Marine and adopted his dog Nowzad while serving in Afghanistan. He says the Taliban banned people from having dogs as pets.

“If it’s a male dog it may be used for dog fights, if not it’s just discarded on the street and may then just fight for scraps,” Farthing said.

So he started the animal rescue group called Nowzad that tries to save animals in Afghanistan and reunite them with service men and women throughout the world when the troops return home.

Sergeant Adam Riniker says his dog, “Freedom,” will now live a life of freedom.

“I do a lot of hunting and we live on a couple farms so she’ll probably do a lot of running and I have another dog that she’ll be running around and playing with,” he said.

After knowing only a life of war, they’re now headed home.

It would normally cost about $4,000 to get a pet from Afghanistan to New York, but Wednesday, American Airlines donated the flight flying in 14 dogs.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

Comments (15)
  1. lee ann rogers says:

    This is so heartt-touching. I think it is so great that the soldiers are able to reunite with the dogs they befriended in Afghanistan. I admire them for giving these dogs a better life.

  2. lddayton says:


  3. Bj Baisdon says:

    Thank’s to everyone that is giving a dog a loving home and to the loving people of American Airlines!

  4. Bj Baisdon says:

    Very heart warming story, much love to everyone and the auesome animal’s. It isn’t that often the men, troop’s return home with a stray animal!

  5. Candace Barozzini says:

    American Airlines…you rock…My niece’s husband is a pilot for them….I knew I always liked to fly them best…now I know why 🙂

  6. Holly McQueen says:

    Pen Farthing and the Nowzad charity are who deserve the most thanks.
    He’s the one behind the whole rescue and he still risks his life going out to Afghanistan for no other reason then to help the cats and dogs.
    Pen’s book is inspirational. A true hero.

  7. sooze says:

    Thank you American Airlines! I hope you continue this practice – they go in the cargo hold, don’t they? I’ll pay for a crate or two if it gets more of these life altering campanions home. AND, I won’t blink when you charge a little extra for my bags : )

  8. Joe says:

    Thank You Cindy for the great story and American Airlines and American Dog Rescue for supporting this mission. My two dogs are already adjusting to the life of love quite well.

    Sincerely, LTC Joe Crocitto

  9. Jamie says:

    The puppy in the pic with his chin on the soldier’s boots is my puppy! He is so wonderful and I am lucky to have him. He brought much love and comfort to our soldiers while deployed and it would have broken them to turn him back to the streets.

    1. Cham Rowlands says:

      this is such a beautiful story. I live in South Africa, but i’m so grateful to the American and British troops who sign away their lives for OUR freedom. Thank you so much. To see these gorgeous animals reunited with their “best friends” is so heartwarming. American Airlines, if ever i have the pleasure of flying to the USA again, you will be my carrier of choice. God bless you. With love from Africa

  10. Diana says:

    What a wonderful story. Everyone knows the healing benefits of a good loving relationship between a human and their pet. It’s just a win win for everyone.
    Thank you American Airlines!!!

  11. Allison says:

    Great story, but why so much to fly a dog here? Unless we’re paying Afghanistan to release them? Deplorable. But yes, thank you AA for bringing them home. Maybe other airlines can follow their lead and bring more back to their loving soldiers 🙂

  12. Adam says:

    Afghan poeple r horrible humans

  13. JMS says:

    nice story. also speaks volumes abt the afghan people who bar the keeping of dogs as pets and abandon the non-fighters to a life on the streets fighting for scraps. i understand there are cultural differences here but how does any human look a loving dog in the eye and give it the boot? seems to go against every intinct i have.

  14. Jay Pee says:

    That’s nice!


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