Stranger Drives Child’s Dog Miles To Reunite Them After Learning His Story

The power of social media is something our brains can’t really grasp: you post some silly update, and in a flash, it can be seen by people all over the world. In the wildest scenarios, a single post — an image, some words — can rally good people to a great cause.

In 2018, the Miller family of North Carolina learned all about the power of social media. Struck by tragedy and separated from their beloved dog, the family sent out a desperate plea for help online. The unbelievable response showed them the heights of human kindness…

As the holidays were approaching, the Miller family needed to figure out what they were going to do for Christmas. The decision, this year, would be tough: their home in North Carolina had been destroyed.

KUTV

When Hurricane Florence battered the East Coast in 2017, the Miller’s home succumbed to the swift waters and raging wind. Their house was left unlivable, but they were determined to rebuild.

Debbie Elliott / NPR

Riddled with hard times, Jacob and Jamie Miller wanted a break from their chaotic life. Lucky for them, family and friends were willing to take them in, while their beloved German Shepherd puppy, Frank, stayed in South Carolina with grandma.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

So, they boarded a plane and traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to spend Christmas with their extended family. Still, their two boys, Perryn and Rayner, wished their furry friend could join the celebrations.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Then, shortly after arriving in Utah and just days before Christmas, the oldest son, Perryn, complained of a persistent headache and intense pressure in his head. Concerned for their son, Jacob and Jamie rushed him to the hospital.

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Upon arrival, doctors immediately examined Perryn to determine what was wrong. Facing test after test, all 8-year-old Perryn could think about was his puppy back home.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, doctors were able to pinpoint the cause of Perryn’s pain. Nothing could have prepared the Millers for what the doctors were about to tell them.

Perryn, doctors said, had a tumor growing on his brain. He was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive, deadly form of cancer, especially in children.

KUTV

Nothing breaks a parent’s heart faster than hearing the words “aggressive,” “deadly,” and “cancer” in relation to their child. But just like every other devastation the Millers had gone through, they weren’t going down without a fight.

KUTV

One last kiss from his parents, and Perryn was rushed into emergency surgery. In an effort to comfort him, Jacob and Jamie promised Frank could visit him once he was out of surgery.

Jennifer Reynolds / Facebook

After several hours, and with much relief, the surgery was completed; doctors successfully removed the tumor from Perryn’s brain. A victory in the young boy’s fight, sure, but there were still mountains to climb in his recovery.

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A surgery of that magnitude involves significant recovery time, followed by a rigorous course of chemotherapy or radiation treatments to insure zero cancerous cells remain in the body. This meant that the Millers were staying in Utah indefinitely.

Even there, however, they were willing to do whatever it took to help their little boy, even if that meant taking an unpaid extended leave from work and staying put with just a weekend bag. Still, something was missing from their home away from home.

Their German Shepherd, Frank, was stuck in North Carolina. He was only 8 months old at the time, and grandma just couldn’t handle him on her own. And Perryn desperately wanted to be with him.

The Millers

With the help of grandma, they looked into the cost of transporting Frank from North Carolina to Utah, but the $3,600 fee — on top of medical bills and relocation costs — was overwhelming.

Grandma had one last idea though: their community was so generous when they helped the Millers get back on their feet after Hurricane Florence, would it be too much to ask for their help once more?

She posted a Facebook plea requesting if anyone had ideas on how to transport Frank approximately 2,300 miles back to Perryn and his family. Unexpectedly, the post spread across social media like wildfire.

Donna Javaras / Facebook

News of the family’s story reached Wisconsin, where it landed on the screen of Rob and Jennifer Reynolds. Touched by the story, Jennifer shared the heartbreaking post with her husband, a former truck driver.

Jennifer Reynolds / Facebook

With little hesitation, Rob knew he needed to volunteer his time and help reunite this deserving family with their beloved dog. He felt that Frank could “help [Perryn] recover.”

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

Rising before the sun, Rob packed up his Subaru Outback at 4:30 a.m. and embarked on the nearly 20-hour trip from his home in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, to North Carolina. This was just the beginning of the long trip ahead of him.

By the morning of January 3rd, Rob had reached North Carolina to pick up the energetic pup. The next leg of the trip was going to be long and tiring, but Rob hoped that Frank would help him get through it. 

Donna Javaras / Facebook

Since the story had already spread across the internet, Rob posted updates on Facebook in regards to their 2,300 mile cross-country trip. As it turns out, Frank was an amazing travel companion!

“Frank and I got along very well,” Rob said. He “would sleep or play with his toys. We’d stop and go for walks. If he wanted to use the bathroom, he’d bump my right arm. He was perfect.”

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

The trip was going so well that Rob even offered to drive Frank back to North Carolina in the future if need be. But after 52 hours of driving, Rob hoped that wouldn’t be the case…

Robert Reynolds / Facebook

 

On January 5, 2019, Rob and Frank arrived in Salt Lake City. No one was waiting outside the snowy home, but Frank sensed his family was near by — the pooch ran right to the front door of the home!

Seventy-two hours after leaving North Carolina, Rob rang the doorbell in anticipation, unsure what state the family would be in on the other side. As the front door swung open, Rob knew the drive was totally worth it.

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Frank and the Millers went crazy at the sight of each other! For the first time in what seemed like forever, Perryn’s face lit up with excitement. The boy explained, “I felt really excited to see Frank. I just really like Frank, and he’s a good dog.”

Facebook

Forever indebted to this kind stranger, Jacob explained “It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been hard. But it’s been overwhelmingly awesome at the same time.”

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After everything the family had been through, it was a blessing to have Frank back in their arms. The only thing left for the Millers to do was keep on fighting. A sentiment that hits very close to home for one British soldier as he tried to reunite with his very own Frank.

CBS News

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.

Pets 4 Homes

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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