February 19th 2007 4:27 am
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After the last loud bang nothing moves and all is so quiet and still, not even the usual morning song of the local birds breaks the silence. The last incoming mortar round saw to that. From my position hidden behind tightly packed sand bags huddled next to my firend in camouflage I watch as the smoke from the crater rises mushroom like into the grey cold morning sky. In the distance the flat expense of a barren and uninhabited Afghan desert plain, (that is except for the wandering nomadic goat herdsmen that somehow survive this barren corner of the world), completely contrasts the dramatic rocky ridges and soaring cliffs that rise suddenly to the west, north and east from where I sit on the outskirts of the small town of Nowzad nestled at their base. The only greenery for miles can be found here, growing steadily year around, clinging onto life by way of the winter rains from the mountains that powers down the deep sided wadi that spring to life with a complete lack of irregularity, the run off water collecting in a vast underground cave system bringing life throughout the remainder of the drought ridden year. My new human friend - the first person to treat me right ever is a Royal Marine Commando, here as part of the International Security Assistance Force which is trying to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. The Town of Nowzad in the southern province of Helmand in Afghanistan on first sight appears to look exactly like a scene straight out of “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” – nothing has changed here in hundreds of years, the benefits of electricity have not even been entertained and the smell of human waste during the now rare sunny days will always find an unwelcome place to hide in your nostrils. The town - my town, has been plagued by some of the worst fighting seen since the coalition forces removed the Taliban from power. His role at the moment is to stand between the local Afghanistan people and the Taliban. Not a place I would want to stand that's for sure.
However the local people want him here (and so do I because he feeds me and looks after me)
Though at the moment as I listen to another loud explosion courtesy of the Taliban land behind me and survey the damage to the once thriving town that surrounds my home I think that he may have a fair bit of work still to do. With the devastation that the constant battles have left in their wake many of the locals have done the only sensible thing and packed their bags and moved south for the winter and the fighting. Leaving me and my dog friends to starve as there are no scraps of food to be found anywhere now.
I currently reside at the moment with 4 other stray dogs, (Jena, RPG, AK, Dushka and Tali) and 14 puppies that have been left. My new human friend has spent a lot of time on the Sat phone and I think after frantic phone calls back to a lady in a place called England he has finally managed to find a heroic American lady who runs an animal rescue and welfare centre in Kabul. She uses the plight of the rescued dogs to high light to a changing population the benefits of looking after animals (not just dogs and cats) but farm animals as well.
The slight problem of getting me and my four new friends and the puppies to Kabul which is around about 2 days drive through bandit country seems to be a bit of a problem.
Hiring the locals seems the only option but I don't think I am going to enjoy the joureny.
my new human firends have built me a mortar shelter and I like it in there.
I have no ears where they were cut off to make me a better fighting dog, I am all battered and brusied but the Marines like me and treat me to lots of cuddles and military rations. Not one of them has hit me or made me fight - just tried to make me learn to sit but they use a funny language but I am beginning to understand it.
“Jenna” was named after the lad’s favourite actress – Jenna is a quality little companion – always happy to see the Marines and spend hours having a fuss made of her.
Young “RPG” – named because if you have ever seen a rocket propelled grenade in flight and this dog running around then you would see the similarity - both totally and utterly out of control, I like playing with RPG - we are good friends.
Tali is a good mum but she likes to keep herself to herself - she doesn't like me. Dushka is a big fighting dog like me so we don't mix. But he likes being looked after too and the Marines feed him and don't make him fight either.
Little AK is the quietest of our group and sits on her own, she had a head injury when she was found but the marines have done a good job patching her up - she seems to be getting better everyday.
And then all the little puppies - 14 of them - 6 are tali's and 8 are Jena's. they all look the same to me, but I think they are going to be bigger than me when they are older.
Feeding time though happens at irregular hours due to the totally inconvenient attitude of the Taliban, all dog caring duties are carried out during the Marines brief moments of rest, we really enjoy the doggie treats that are starting to arrive in the mail from the firends and family of the Marines back home - I so hope I can live with them one day and be looked after.
At night I hear the dogs that are left outside of the camp howling for company or fighting one another for the left over scraps that the marines leave outside - I know they can't save them though.
I hope we get rescued - I don't want my human firends to leave me here.
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