When Sergeant Chris Duke was in Afghanistan, he made friends with three stray dogs named Sasha, Target and Rufus. Duke said that he and the other soldiers would play with the dogs as a way of mentally escaping, when they began to miss home. Little did he know at the time how valuable this friendship would turn out to be.

On a fated night in February, a suicide bomber tried his best to get into the barracks where Duke was staying. Then, the dogs began to bark wildly and bit the leg of the intruder, to protect Sergeant Duke and the others. The suicide bomber then decided to go ahead and blow himself up at that point, before reaching the inside where 50 soldiers would have gotten killed otherwise. Duke and the other soldiers thought this was nothing short of a miracle.

Unfortunately, Sasha became severely injured in the attack and had to be put to sleep. However, Rufus and Target were both brought back to health. A month later, it was time for Sergeant Duke to return home, but the dogs had to stay put.  Duke then became concerned that other soldiers coming in the area may not want the dogs to remain there.

Duke then wrote a letter, looking for Veteran’s assistance from a program known as Hope for the Warriors. In his letter, Duke says, “I owe my life to those dogs and my wish is to bring them home and give them the best life that I can.”

President of Hope for the Warriors, Robin Kelleher said after receiving Duke’s unique request, she decided to do whatever it took to fulfill his wish. Soon thereafter, word of the story spread and a Facebook page was created to raise money for this cause. In less than 3 months, $21,000 was raised through this page alone. This was enough money for the dogs to be brought out of Afghanistan and into the United States. They reunited with Duke and his wife, in Atlanta.

Target was set to live with another soldier in Arizona, while Rufus will stay with the Duke family. He says he is excited about having Rufus for the rest of his life. As it turns out, Duke wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the dogs and the dogs wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Duke. Truly a beautiful friendship was created.

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