A target for terrorists
Thousands of miles away, an extra special hero needed a new home
Walking along our usual route, my hubby and three rescue collies in tow, I was lost in thought.
‘Penny for them?’ Ray, then 63, asked.
‘I can’t stop thinking about Brin,’ I sighed.
It was June 2010, and Brin’s story had popped up on Facebook days earlier.
The brown mongrel stray had befriended some British troops serving in Afghanistan.
He’d started tagging along on their desert patrols. Barked to alert them to roadside bombs, chased them around camp.
He was so useful, the Royal Gurkha Rifles unit had adopted him.
Brin lived on their base – only then he’d been captured by the Taliban. Held hostage! The poor pooch was beaten so badly his ribs and nose were broken. Heartbreaking. Thankfully, the Afghan National Army had launched a rescue mission.
Now Brin was being cared for on the base by Captain Mark Townend.
But the troops were soon due to leave Afghanistan.
What will happen to Brin now?
That question had been circling my mind for days. ‘Why don’t you email Mark?’ Ray suggested. So I did. A week later, I got a reply... Brin’s a wonderful dog, Mark wrote. But he’s a Taliban target, we can’t take him on patrol any more.
Like me, Mark was worried what’d happen to Brin after he left.
There has to be a way to get Brin back to the UK, I wrote back. Let me help?
So, with Mark’s blessing, I leapt into action.
I got in touch with a lady in Kabul who’d dedicated her life to rescuing animals from war-torn areas. She could help.
‘But it’ll cost £4,000,’ she said.
Flights, quarantine, medical tests – it would
Captured and badly beaten by the Taliban
all cost money.
‘It’s worth it,’ I told Ray. So, first, I sold my car for £2,000.
Then I put up posters, trying to raise the rest.
Our rescue mission made the local paper, and donations trickled in.
By September 2010, we’d made more than enough.
A week later, Brin had been successfully smuggled to the rescue centre in Kabul.
Next, he was checked over, and airlifted to Germany, where he was vaccinated.
Then, finally, he landed in a quarantine facility near Brighton.
Mark emailed to tell me Brin had arrived safely – and also to ask...
Can Brin live with you?
Mark was overseas most of the time.
‘We’ve already got a houseful!’ Ray chuckled – but he’d never turn away an animal in need.
So we agreed – and days later, I visited Brin in quarantine.
As I sat on the floor, he wandered over, gave me a sniff.
Over the next six months, I visited three times a week.
Brin adored the brown teddy I’d bought him.
He grew fond of me, too – especially the treats in my pocket!
Finally, in March 2011, Brin came to his new home.
It was a tough transition – for us all.
We didn’t know how old Brin was exactly, or his temperament.
He’d never lived in a home before, would leap all over the place sending our ornaments flying.
So, for the first two months, we kept him on a lead inside.
I’d walk him at 3am, too, laugh as he dug shallow holes in the garden to lie in.
‘Must be survival tactics,’ I told Ray.
He was frightened of men with beards, though, and other dogs. So we took him to daily ‘social sessions’ at a nearby boarding kennel, which helped his confidence.
He got on with our collies, but he didn’t play with them. Growing up in a war zone, he’d never learnt how. But, gradually, Brin started trusting me and Ray. He loved his fluffy toys, was never rough with them like most dogs. Didn’t tear them up, kept them as good as new.
Such a softy!
Mark visited as often as he could.
Brin was always very excited to see him, and whenever he was up to mischief, I’d text Mark a pic.
Sadly, this March, Brin’s health began to deteriorate.
He developed a heart problem and his lungs were struggling.
Then, on 1 June, he peacefully passed away in his sleep.
Over the years, he helped us raise £40,000 for charities helping animals in war zones.
He was even counted amongst the world’s top 12 greatest animal heroes. We miss Brin dearly. He’d saved lives in a war zone, been kidnapped by terrorists, then smuggled away to start his new life.
But for all the drama he lived through, I’m so grateful that he spent his last days safely snuggled up with his favourite toys – and us.
Growing up in a war zone, he’d never learnt how to play
Me, raising funds... ...to give Brin a home
Mark with Brin, after his rescue A clever boy – and big softy!
What a life he led...