When Maj. Brian Dennis' Marine unit relocated, he was sure he'd never see Nubs, the stray dog he loved, again. But Nubs had other plans.
When Maj. Brian Dennis first spotted a scruffy German Shepard-Border collie mix at a fort in Iraq, the dog wasn’t interested in making friends. The dog, who lived in the wild with a pack of canine companions, had already been through a lifetime’s worth of pain and neglect. His ears had been cut off as a puppy, and he had been trained as a fighting dog. Now that he was finally free of his tormentors, the dog just wanted to be left alone.
But Dennis saw something special in the dog, which he nicknamed “Nubs,” because of his missing ears. It took some time, but eventually Dennis had the dog eating out of his hand. One day, when Nubs showed up one day with a deep wound in his side, Dennis nursed him back to health. Soon, Dennis and Nubs were inseparable.
Sadly, Dennis learned that his unit would be forced to relocate to a new base, and he wasn’t allowed to bring Nubs along. As he watched Nubs race alongside his Hummer as his unit drove away from the fort for the last time, he was sure that he would never see the dog again.
But two days later, a familiar face turned up at Dennis’ new base: Somehow, Nubs had managed to follow the Marine unit through the Iraqi desert on foot, all the way to their new base – 70 miles away.
“When he arrived he looked like he’d just been through a war zone.”
“I won’t even address the gauntlet he had to run of dog packs, wolves, and God knows what else to get here,” Dennis wrote. “When he arrived he looked like he’d just been through a war zone.”
“Uh, wait a minute, he had.”
Even though it was against military protocol, Dennis’ unit felt compelled to give the determined dog a home. They built a doghouse for Nubs, but were soon informed by the military police that Nubs would have to live elsewhere. So, Dennis decided to take Nubs home with him. The dog is currently in Jordan, and will soon be sent on a plane to San Diego, where he’ll be reunited with Dennis once again.
Dennis looks forward to taking Nubs to play on Dog Beach, feeding him gourmet dog food, and letting him bask in the sunlight, far away from the harsh Iraqi desert.
“He’s always been a big dog lover,” Dennis’ mother, Marsha Cargo, told ABC News. “He’s supposed to be this big, tough Marine, but he’s really a softy.”
Originally published February 2008. We thought this classic from the archives was worth a re-visit!