A tar­get for ter­ror­ists

Thou­sands of miles away, an ex­tra spe­cial hero needed a new home

Chat - - CONTENTS - Sally Bald­win, 58, East­bourne

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...

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