What a lovely man! Ladies in Phoenix, if he isn’t married this is one man to get to know. He obviously knows how to love and the meaning of commitment. Not to mention, I don’t think he cares about a little dog hair. Big barks to Charlie and Edward!
Thanks to the Arizona Republic for this article.
Phoenix GI’s saving of dog spurs broader rescue effort
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 1, 2008 12:00 AM
Sgt. Edward Watson, 26, left Phoenix and went to Iraq.
He saw things on the battlefield he never thought he would see. He did things he never thought he would have to do.
That may be why Charlie became so important to Watson.
The paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division met the dog after he had pulled guard duty one night last spring at his unit’s outpost on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Returning from patrol, the soldiers of his unit handed Watson a puppy they had stumbled upon.
The animal fit into Watson’s hand. It was covered in filth and fleas. It was malnourished and close to death.
Watson spent moments falling in love with the animal and then months trying to figure out how to get him back home.
Because he never gave up, Watson eventually created a new form of animal rescue that allows members of the U.S. military to bring home the animals that can mean so much to them.
“In Iraq, Charlie was a piece of home and a morale booster for many of us,” he said. “We made a promise that we wouldn’t leave him behind.”
In Baghdad, Watson and his unit were sent to what he describes as “an outpost in a neighborhood.”
That location is important because of the Army’s General Order No. 1A, which expressly prohibits: “Adopting as pets or mascots, caring for, or feeding any type of domestic or wild animal.”
Despite the prohibition, Watson’s company gave Charlie a bath. Then, they fed him some of the Army-issued food.
The dog loved it.
Charlie grew stronger each day, and the whole unit kept caring for him because, Watson said, the Army brass didn’t get out to visit much.
As the weeks and months passed, Watson grew more attached to the dog.
“He’s absolutely lovable, friendly,” Watson said. “I couldn’t imagine finding a more perfect dog, let alone finding him in Iraq.”
Pleading for help
Watson began to realize he would not be able to leave Charlie behind.
But when he looked for ways to get the dog back, he learned almost immediately that this would not be easy.
The Army may have looked the other way as the company adopted the animal, but there was no way it was going to send Charlie to the States.
Iraq is not a place where getting something as simple as a rabies shot is easy. Eventually, Watson got Charlie his shot.
But after phone calls, letters and begging, Watson could find no way to get Charlie home.
“Towards the end of 2007, things were looking pretty bleak,” he said.
Out of options, Watson began a blog from Iraq called “Operation Bring Charlie Home,” at operationbch.
The blog chronicled Watson’s efforts and frustrations. Eventually, Terri Crisp of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals got involved.
“Our initial research clearly defined the enormous challenges, dangers and costs involved,” Crisp said.
The SPCA was determined to help and eventually found a way to bring Charlie home.
Then, the organization started Operation Baghdad Pups to bring home animals from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Charlie and Watson were the first to benefit, but 35 other animals are now in the pipeline.
The cost per animal is about $4,000, but Crisp says the rescue helps the animals and soldiers who promise to bring them home.
“When we hear from a soldier pleading to save the dog or cat they want to give a permanent home to,” Crisp asked, “how can we not make them a promise to help?”
A long-awaited reunion
In February, Crisp flew to Iraq and picked up Charlie. The dog stayed with her until Watson got shipped home.
Last week, Watson left Fort Bragg and went to Washington, D.C., to pick him up.
“It was an amazing moment,” Watson said. “I had never seen him so excited.”