Reunited: Soldier Forced to Leave Beloved Stray Dog in Iraq, Miraculously Reconnects One Month Later

Military service encompasses nobility and danger, making it a profession of great significance. The constant fear and stress endured by servicemen and women often lead to high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans. Moreover, deployments bring forth additional stressors such as concerns on the home front, leadership challenges, and a sense of privacy deprivation, all of which contribute to the strain experienced by these courageous individuals.

One individual, Ken Wyrsch, a former army specialist stationed in Iraq, personally encountered these hardships while serving alongside a Kurdish unit. Amidst these formidable challenges, Ken discovered solace in an unlikely companion—a dog named Ollie.

Ken shared, “Ollie was a tremendous morale booster. He was there with us during our missions and welcomed us upon our return.” Ollie had become an integral part of the entire unit, having been nurtured by them since he was a puppy. The presence of Ollie brought comfort and a sense of home to the soldiers. Scientific research supports the therapeutic effects of pets, revealing that interacting with familiar animals, such as petting them, can alleviate stress by lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate, regulating breathing, and relaxing muscle tension.

When Ken learned that his unit would disband and the camp would be dismantled, he grew concerned about Ollie’s fate. Considering Iraq’s history with stray dogs and the previous culling of Baghdad’s canine population, Ken feared that Ollie would not survive without him. He speculated, “I suspect some Iraqi might use him for target practice.” Determined not to abandon his loyal friend, Ken devised a plan to bring Ollie home, firmly stating, “You don’t leave a friend behind. I can’t do it.”

Ken reached out to SPCA International, informing them of Ollie’s predicament. The organization tirelessly worked to reunite the soldier with his beloved companion, arranging for Ollie’s safe transport from Iraq to California. Stephanie Scott of SPCA International affirmed, “If Ken had left and Ollie had stayed, he would have faced a miserable life.” Ken acknowledged the collective effort, stating, “This right here represents thousands and thousands of donations that made bringing this dog possible. He’s a good dog. He’s worth it.”


Thanks to Ken’s unwavering dedication and the support from SPCA International, Ollie now has a new home with his best friend. The heartwarming reunion between Ken and Ollie resonated with people worldwide, amassing over 4.9 million views since their story was shared. The comments on the video reflect the impact of Ken’s unwavering commitment to his friend, with remarks such as, “‘You don’t leave a friend behind.’ True words right here,” and “Some may call this a waste of money, but those who possess compassion recognize its worth! Truly heartwarming!”

In a profession where sacrifice and hardship are commonplace, Ken’s unwavering dedication to his loyal companion serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring bond between humans and animals. The story of Ken and Ollie exemplifies the power of friendship, compassion, and the extraordinary lengths one will go to ensure the well-being of those they hold dear.

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