• Pet Talk: Inspiring story of dog, Marine

  • This is a true story about Marine Major Brian Dennis and an Iraqi stray dog.

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  • This is a true story about Marine Major Brian Dennis and an Iraqi stray dog. The events that occurred in 2007 are an awe-inspiring demonstration of a strong bond formed between man and dog. The extraordinary strength and determination demonstrated by the dog are the most remarkable aspects of this narrative.
    A children's book, "Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle" chronicles the friendship that ultimately saved the life of this dog and warmed the hearts of all involved in his rescue. Maj. Dennis along with Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery are the authors of the book, published in November 2009, that tells the story through photographs and narrative.
    Maj. Dennis and his unit were part of a border transition team deployed to a fort near the Jordanian/Syrian/Iraqi border. While there, they regularly traveled between the fort and their forward operating base. On one of these visits, they came upon a pack of feral stray dogs that hung around the fort area. As Dennis stepped out of his Humvee, a German Shepherd mix dog approached him cautiously.
    There was an instant rapport between the pack's alpha dog and the "alpha" Marine and soon they were closely bonded. This was surprising as in those circumstances there was little reason for a wild dog to trust a human. The Iraqi soldiers, purportedly to make him into a fighting war dog, had cut off the dog's ears. Iraqi culture is not fond of dogs. Muslims consider dogs unclean and untouchable and thus do not treat strays kindly.
    Whenever he was at the fort, Major Dennis took the dog into his care. He named him "Nubs" because of his ears. Nubs stood guard duty with Dennis, slept with him, and was treated kindly by the whole team. These visits lasted only a few days and then the unit went elsewhere for two to three weeks. Every time they left, Nubs would chase after their vehicle but Dennis had to leave him behind because of a Marine rule that pets are not allowed in combat zones. During these away times, they always worried about Nubs' welfare.
    On one visit to the fort, Nubs did not greet them. He was later found, gaunt and weak from a stab wound to his side that punctured his lung. This was probably inflicted by the locals who resented the presence of the Marines. With a few days care Nubs recovered from his wounds and on their next visit two weeks later he was in good shape but once again, they had to leave him behind.
    Two days later, after they were at their destination 70 miles away, Nubs appeared at the base, weary and footsore. He had traveled across the frigid Iraqi desert enduring much hardship in order to be with his "person." It seemed like a miracle that the dog, probably following the scent, was able to survive the journey.
    Page 2 of 2 - This time Maj. Dennis was determined not to ever leave Nubs behind again and the unit adopted him. Dennis said, "Nubs was a huge morale booster. Dogs just make people smile. They can brighten your day in a pretty gloomy, tension-filled place." Nubs was given a Marine collar, food, and love. Unfortunately, the unit was soon ordered to "get rid of the dog, or else." They were only given a few days to resolve the problem.
    Dennis was able to raise $2,000, the amount needed to send Nubs to California to stay with his friends until he returned home permanently later that year. Happy conclusion: Dennis returned to San Diego in one piece himself, and Nubs was there to greet him. They are still happily living together today.
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