Friendship
Nervous soldier has sweet reunion with dog he befriended overseas
Nick was thrilled that Airys was coming to live with him - but he was worried she'd forgotten him. All those nerves got flushed away after he opened her cage door.
Kate Miano
09.22.22

You can never turn your nose up at chance encounters. When a desert dog in Iraq started showing up and spending time at a military camp, one particular soldier had no choice but to let her into his heart. When his tour ended, he had no idea they would be reunited again.

Nick Pierzchalski served as a soldier in Iraq. He ended up making one very unexpected connection.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

As a member of the National Guard, Nick flew Blackhawks in Iraq, usually flying to wounded soldiers and airlifting them to safety. But in all that chaos, he befriended a beam of light.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

In the Iraqi desert, there was a sweet dog. Nick told FOX 13:

“This dog ran up to me, ran up to our group, and befriended us immediately.”

A dog named Airys started spending a lot of her time with the soldiers. But she bonded especially closely with Nick.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

Nick loved having her around. So much so that he built her a kennel in his Blackhawk hangar. Airys had previously been feral, but now she was living on the lap of luxury. Dogs enjoy being around humans just as much as we like having them around, so she probably adored all the love and attention she was getting from these soldiers.

According to Nick, Airys was essential to his group.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

Serving in the military is a high-stress job, and it’s made even more difficult by being separated from the comforts of home. For Nick and his colleagues, this dog helped get them through difficult days. Nick says:

“It brought great morale to me and the whole group felt like a piece of home. She’d hang out with us. She was constantly with us.”

Once his tour was over, Nick went home and he never saw Airys again.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

When Nick went back to the United States, Airys stayed where she was. He missed her, but the reality was that he could not just bring her home with him.

That all changed due to Operation Baghdad Pups.

Operation Baghdad Pups is an offshoot of the SPCAI. It works to reunite animals living in areas of conflict with the American military members that they bonded with while the servicemembers were near them. The group takes requests from anyone who has served in the United States military and it will travel to anywhere that there have been deployments.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

Operation Baghdad Pups was able to locate Airys for Nick. Once found, they brought her to Florida, where Nick lives, and reunited the two.

At their reunion, it was clear that Airys and Nick had missed each other a lot. But beforehand, Nick had been nervous that the dog wouldn’t remember him.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

They met at Tampa International Airport, right on the runway. Nick was there to greet Airys and give her a nice new home. When they saw each other again, neither of them could contain their excitement. Fortunately, FOX 13 was there to capture the heartwarming scene on film.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

From the moment that Nick let her out of her cage, Airys was wagging her tail and heading right to him. While Nick was delightedly petting her and fawning over her, she buried her face in his lap and didn’t stop wagging her tail. Airys even started whining with happiness and Nick picked the dog up to carry her home – and she is not small!

While holding the dog in his arms, Nick tried to sum up his feelings.

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

In between kisses on the face from Airys, Nick said:

“I can’t even put it on words, I really can’t. I didn’t think I was going to get her home…She remembers! I was nervous she wasn’t going to remember but she obviously does.”

YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay
Source:
YouTube - Fox13 Tampa Bay

Now Nick is going to get her settled into her new life as a suburban dog. These two will always have each other’s backs.

Watch the video below for a look at their emotional reunion!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: Fox13 Tampa Bay, YouTube – Fox13 Tampa Bay, Operation Baghdad Pups

By Kate Miano
hi@sbly.com
Kate Miano is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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