This ex-Army specialist knows that he can never leave a friend behind. To provide a safer home for the dog he befriended while serving in Iraq, he had his furry friend flown halfway across the world to his home in California.
Stray mutt Ollie isn’t any ordinary dog. He became the morale booster and beloved mascot of a U.S. Army unit stationed in Iraq after he wandered into their military base near Kirkuk one day.
The gentle stray puppy soon won the hearts of the soldiers and, in particular, one man, then-Army Specialist Ken Wyrsch, who took Ollie under his wing.
Wyrsch raised Ollie, while the furry animal comforted his caretaker, who was fighting alongside Kurdish military forces in Iraq. The duo’s bond blossomed and strengthened over time.
“He was there when we left our missions, he was there when we got back,” Ken told CBS San Francisco.
When news came that the unit was disbanding and they were returning home, Wyrsch figured he would have to leave Ollie behind.
“You don’t leave a friend behind, can’t do it,” Wyrsch said.
Wyrsch was worried Ollie wouldn’t survive on the dangerous streets in war-torn Iraq, where animals would face cruel treatment.
“I don’t know, some Iraqi would use it for target practice or something,” Wyrsch said.
Thus, he contacted SPCA International and requested their help to bring Ollie to San Francisco, where he was staying.
Wyrsch was finally reunited with his best friend at the cargo depot of San Francisco International Airport in May 2015, after SPCA International raised enough money to fly Ollie to the Golden Gate City, thousands of miles from Iraq.
Upon seeing Wyrsch a month after their separation, Ollie excitedly stood on his hind legs to give his new adopted father a hug.
“Good to see you,” Wyrsch said to Ollie.
“And this right here was thousands and thousands of dollars of donations that went into this dog, you know? He’s a good boy. He’s worth it,” Wyrsch said.
At last, Ollie the stray dog in Iraq found his new forever home in the Bay Area, living a new life, with his best friend by his side.
“He’s going to be with me for the rest of my life,” Wyrsch vowed.