Soldier In Syria Uncovers A Poor Creature In The Rubble That Soon Gives Him A Whole New Mission

The bonds that military personnel forge during their services are unbreakable. Yet, many of these close friends go their separate ways once they return home, only seeing each other on rare occasions — or never again.

When one British soldier made an unlikely friend while serving in the Middle East, he couldn’t imagine being apart ever again. But once he had to leave his companion behind, he drew up a plan for a dramatic reunion — one he hoped would be permanent…

After two tours in Afghanistan, Sean Laidlaw (left) figured he could handle anything Syria threw at him. But when the British Army deployed Sean and his comrades in the Royal Engineers in 2018, he leaped into a rescue attempt that he never saw coming.

Facebook / Sean Laidlaw

Sean was an expert at defusing and removing bombs. The Syrian Civil War had ravaged the country over the last several years, especially in the city of Raqqa. While many buildings crumbled around him, others still had undetonated explosives inside. 

Reuters / Erik De Castro

Even when Sean wasn’t on patrol, the army life was a grind. Exciting moments in the camp were few and far between, and troop morale suffered greatly. When Sean got a call to investigate a bombed-out school in February, he was almost grateful.

Tom Bonnett

As Sean patrolled the area, he couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. When he really focused, however, he thought he could hear a faint whimpering somewhere under the rubble. Sean followed the noise and started digging.

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It was a puppy! The canine, which appeared to be some kind of Asian shepherd mix, backed away from Sean as he reached out. Sean knew he had to do something to help the poor thing, but then a horrific sight made him recoil.

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A few other puppies surrounded the one Sean just found. Tragically, none of them had survived the collapse of the building. Now that the dog lost her family, Sean realized he couldn’t just leave her in the wreckage alone.

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The pup still wouldn’t go near any strangers, so Sean did the sensible thing. He pulled out some water and a couple bites of food, and that was enough to draw the reluctant animal out from her hiding place.

Soon after, the orphaned canine let its guard down and allowed Sean to pick her up. There was an immediate bond. Sean decided to bring her back to base and introduce his new friend to all his squadmates. First, of course, she would need a name.

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Sean called her Barrie, and she soon became a fixture in the Royal Engineers, barely ever leaving Sean’s side. Once she got settled in, Barrie accomplished quite a bit of good as well. 

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The Army interacted with a number of Syrian children, many of whom lost their homes and family members. Amid the chaos and destruction, having a friendly dog roam around made a big difference in their lives.

Times of Israel / Bilal Hussein

Sean also believes that having Barrie around gave him an escape from the stress and trauma of the military life. Whereas some of his comrades developed mental illness or PTSD, Sean at least had an outlet and companion. 

Incredibly grateful to have such a valuable friend, Sean said “I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine.” They got so close that Sean could no longer imagine being apart from Barrie.

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Barrie became such a big member of the team that Sean decided to make it official and sewed together a custom bomb squad vest for Barrie. Aside from being a big fashion statement, the vest kept her protected from danger. However, it turned out that her biggest threat was right around the corner.

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In autumn of 2018, Sean received word that his stint in Syria was almost over. He was going home — but only with one ticket. What would happen to Barrie once he left? He didn’t know if he would ever see his dog again, or even if she would still have a home at the Army base.

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Sean’s comrades celebrated the entire trip back to the United Kingdom, but Barrie weighed heavily on his mind. Then, an idea popped into his head. He remembered hearing about a charity called War Paws that helped reconnect veterans with their military dogs.

War Paws workers seemed confident they could help Sean, but there were no guarantees. They instructed him to go to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to await the arrival of a military plane. He waited nervously, hoping Barrie would be one of the passengers getting off.

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As the airline staff rolled out a dog crate, Sean recognized a familiar face peering through the door. Barrie made it to Europe after all! Holding back tears of joy, Sean reached out to hand her a gift.

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He got Barrie a new and improved vest! She took a look in the airport mirror to size up her new duds — and her new surroundings. The streets of Raqqa, Syria, were all Barrie had ever known, so Sean hoped she would adjust to British life easily enough.

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With Barrie back in his arms, Sean returned home to Hornchurch, Essex. She settled in immediately — a far cry from the scared puppy that wouldn’t come out of the ruined school. Thanks to a stable home and steady diet, Barrie grew like a weed too!

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A full-grown dog, Barrie continued to live happily with Sean. After going through so much together, there’s no doubt that this pair would never let anything split them apart ever again.

ITV / Ken McKay

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