War vet reunited with puppy he adopted in Afghanistan

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 10 at 9:07 PM

D/FW AIRPORT -- Helmet camera video shows a tiny puppy gratefully grabbing beef jerky bits tossed by an American GI patrolling a village in Afghanistan. Just minutes later Air Force Staff Sgt. Tom Burright was under attack.

All the more reason to keep the pup. He named her Lyla.

"It can be a horrible day," Burright said. "[And then I] come home, [and] she's running around licking faces, making everyone smile."

The dog became the pet for Burright and the team of Army Green Berets he was attached to, as a mechanic.

As Tom Burright prepared to rotate back to Texas last month, he couldn't bear to leave Lyla, but couldn't afford to rescue her either.

But someone did.

Outside a cargo hangar at D/FW International Airport Wednesday, she leaped into his arms.

"Lyla, I missed you, too," he laughed as the Afghan hound licked his face, and then the face of his young son, Tommy.

They've been waiting a month for this -- longer in dog years.

"When I got her, she fit in one hand," Burright said. "[A] tiny puppy wandering down the street, looking for food. She was adorable and helpless. [I] picked her up and took her home, and fell in love right away."

"[She's] been with me the last four months," he said. "Kept me company most of the deployment -- ate together, slept together. Good to have her back on my side."

Burright said he had given up hope of bringing her home, until he called the Puppy Rescue Mission late one night from his base.

"Me and Lyla went to bed. By the time we woke up in the morning, got a call from someone named Michelle," he recalled. "Said she'd raised the money."

Michelle Smith said the Puppy Rescue Mission has helped American GI's bring about 400 dogs out of Afghanistan. It costs about $4,000 each.

Break it down by licks and wags, and it's a bargain.

For more information, visit the Puppy Rescue Mission web site at this link.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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