It goes without saying that military life isn’t easy, especially while the soldiers are on deployment. When they’re overseas, not only do they face dangers around every corner, but they’re homesick and sad, as well. Which is why it’s so important for soldiers to have an outlet to turn to during all of the chaos. This soldier found his outlet while overseas, but when it was time for a change, he had to do some quick thinking before it was too late.Sean Laidlaw believed that he was capable of handling anything that Syria had to throw at him, especially considering that he had already served two tours in Afghanistan. When Sean and his fellow soldiers in the Royal Engineers were deployed by the British Army in 2018, he leaped into action during a surprising rescue attempt that he never imagined happening.
Sean is an expert at defusing and removing bombs. Throughout the last several years, the Syrian Civil War has ravaged through the country, especially in the city of Raqqa. While there were a large number of surrounding buildings crumbling to the ground around Sean, there were several buildings that had undetonated bombs inside of them.
It didn’t matter if he was actively patrolling or not, life in the army wasn’t a walk in the part for Sean. Well, for anyone. There was rarely anything exciting going on in the camp, and the troop’s morale was definitely suffering because of it. So in February, Sean almost felt grateful for being called out to investigate a bombed-out school.
Sean couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary while he was patrolling the area. But when he really tuned into his surroundings, he thought that he could hear the sound of a faint whimper somewhere underneath all of the rubble. Sean began to follow the noise and soon started digging.
The sound that he was hearing was coming from a puppy! The puppy, which looked like some kind of Asian shepherd mix, immediately backed away from Sean when he attempted to reach out. Without thinking twice, Sean realized that he had to do something to help the scared canine, but then he saw something that made him jerk back.
All of a sudden, Sean realized that there were a few other puppies surrounding the one that he had just found. Sadly, none of them had survived when the building collapsed. It was clear that the poor puppy had lost her entire family. That’s when Sean realized that he couldn’t just leave her there all alone to starve in the rubble.
The pup was still very frightened, so she didn’t really want to go near any strangers. Sean decided it was best to do the simplest that thing he could. He took out a little bit of water and some food, and that was clearly enough to call the scared pup out of her hiding place.
It took four days before the puppy would let Sean touch her. That was when Sean realized he was able to pick her up. Sean decided that he should bring her back to the base with him. He was looking forward to introducing his new friend to all of his comrades, but she really needed her own name first.
Sean chose the name Barrie for the sweet little girl, and soon enough, she became a permanent member of the Royal Engineers. In fact, she barely ever left Sean’s side. “She stayed with me all day, every day. She did jobs with me, I’d wake up, she’d come eat with me, she’d then sit in the passenger seat of my car when we drove to Raqqa,” Sean said in an interview with MailOnline.
Sean explained that having the friendly puppy around always made him happy. “Working in a war zone, coming back to camp you sit in your room on your own. To have a companion you can play with and train, it kept my mind away from all the things I was seeing and doing out there,” he said. “You can only imagine how bad Syria is.”
Sadly, many of Sean’s fellow soldiers suffered from PTSD, but Sean was able to find a peaceful outlet in Barrie. He said, “Barrie gave him a bit of normality, she definitely kept me sane.” She boosted the morale of other soldiers by sitting in their laps when they had bad days.
“I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine,” said Sean. He was obviously more than grateful to have found Barrie. The two had become so close that Sean couldn’t imagine spending even one day without having Barrie in his life.
Barrie had become such a major member of the Royal Engineers that Sean knew that he had to make it official, so he sewed together a bomb squad vest so Barrie could have one of her very own. But they would soon find out that Barrie’s threat was closer than they thought.
Sean received the word that his time in Syria was almost over in the fall of 2018. He was finally going home, but what was going to happen to Barrie once he wasn’t there to take care of her? He had no clue if he would ever see Barrie again, and he definitely didn’t know if she would even have a home at the base once he left.
All of Sean’s comrades celebrated on the trip back to the United Kingdom, but all Sean could do was think about Barrie. That was when an amazing idea popped into his mind. Sean remembered hearing about War Paws, a charity that helps unite veterans with the dogs that they served in the military with. Sean immediately set up a GoFundMe account to get funds to help get Barrie back home with him.
The volunteers that work with War Paws seemed like they were pretty confident that they would be able to reunite Sean with Barrie. War Paws got Barrie safely out of Syria to Iraq. After that, the dog had to be quarantined for three months. Finally, Sean was instructed to go to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to pick up Barrie.
As the staff at the airport slowly rolled a dog crate out of the plane, Sean noticed her furry face peering through the door. Barrie was staring back at him! She had made it to Paris! Trying not to cry, Sean reached his hand out to pet Barrie through the cage.
This was not a little puppy anymore, she was a big dog now. Sean worried that she would not recognize him, but she certainly did. “It was pure joy when she realized who I was. She’s exactly as she was back in Syria, it was just great to have my dog again,” Sean said.
Sean returned home to Hornchurch with Barrie happily sitting right by his side. Barrie had no problem settling in with Sean. She sure had changed a lot since being that scared little puppy that was afraid of Sean.
It took a 3,000-mile journey, a 12-hour car ride, and traveling through five countries to finally get them together. Thanks to the help of people at War Paws, and all friends and strangers who donated to Sean’s GoFundMe account, this man and his dog will have a wonderful life together. Cheers to a long and happy friendship, Barrie and Sean!