Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
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Lots of American soldiers stationed overseas bring home foreign brides. But as far as he can tell, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jim Hines is the only one to bring home a dog.
"Everyone said it couldn't be done," says Hines, 39, of the 220th Military Police Company in Denver. "My only words to that are, love does amazing things."
The object of his affection is Lanya, a 5-year-old German shepherd whom Hines first spotted while on patrol one frigid winter evening in 1999 in an isolated area of Tazar Air Base in Hungary.
"Winter time in Hungary, there's nothing to do," said Hines. "There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, and it was downright cold. We were just on patrol ...when we saw something moving in the distance. We thought at first it might be a coyote. Our second thought was that it was a Hungarian army dog. They periodically got loose. But this dog was completely different."
The starving dog could walk only a few feet at a time, then had to stop and rest. Finally, even that was too much effort. She just laid down and let the soldiers approach her.
"She was so weak and cold and malnourished," Hines said. "I walked up to her and she looked at me, and that was it. It was love at first sight."
"It took her about two weeks to get her strength back," Hines said.
Eventually, they were caught, and the base commander ordered Hines to get rid of the dog. Army regulations prohibited keeping pets on base.
Hines was heartbroken - until he learned about an obscure Army regulation that says any company-sized element on an overseas deployment for six months or more can have a mascot.
"So we presented that to the commander, and she said, 'Well, it's an Army regulation and that makes it legal. So you can legally keep her here."
Hines arranged with an Army veterinarian to get Lanya all the shots she'd need to come to the United States.
He got Lanya on a flight to Italy, then a connecting flight to Denver, where a friend would meet her at the airport and keep her until he returned home two months later.
Lanya arrived safely. Two months later, Hines went to pick her up. "I called ahead of time and said I'm coming around the corner. Just open the door and I'll be standing there," he said. "And that's what I did. And she just stood there, looking at me. She was processing the uniform. She was thinking 'I know that uniform, I recognize it.' Then I called her name, and it was heaven. She was just crying and jumping and whining, and I was crying. Everybody was crying."
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