This Stray Dog Saved By A Marine Saved Him After Returning From War

A beautiful friendship between Marine Sgt. Craig Grossi and his dog Fred has changed both their lives and helped him deal with the effects of a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

#15. Craig Grossi Always Wanted To Serve His Country As A U.S. Marine

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It was a path he pursued seriously and, in the summer of 2010, he was deployed to AfghanistanThere, Craig’s task was gathering intelligence while protecting his position, a complicated task because as soon as he and his regiment arrived, they were confronted with all the dangers of war. His elite Marine recon unit was regularly under attack.

#14. The U.S. Marine Base In Sangin Was A Death Zone

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There were bullets flying and RPGs exploding all around, constantly under attack. And this wasn’t the only thing making life in this foreign country so dangerous, either.

#13. Extreme Temperatures

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The temperature in the Registan Desert could reach up to 115 degrees. Craig was strong and brave, but he spent most of his days trying to stay alive.

#12. Their First Meeting

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When the fighting finally subsided and Grossi was able to look around, he took the time to clean and check his rifle and to prepare himself something to eat. That’s when he noticed a stray dog loitering around the edge of the base. It wasn’t unusual to see dogs. Most dogs were strays who traveled in packs and were often aggressive toward people.

#11. This Dog Was Different

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Many of the feral dogs prowling the villages of the Afghan desert were vicious or rabid, but this dog demonstrated something completely different: his friendly demeanor and his goofy face and short legs were a hard contrast to the everyday grim picture that Craig was used to. Despite being previously instructed not to interact with any dogs in the area, Craig felt that this was the first time he would have a problem with following the rules.

#10. He Wagged His Tail!

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With a piece of beef jerky in hand, Grossi made his way over to the dog, remembering to approach carefully, waiting nervously to see what would happen next. When the two came a bit closer together, Craig noticed the dog was absolutely filthy and covered in gigantic black bugs. But then Craig was totally surprised to see that the dog began frantically wagging its tail!

#9. He Named Him Fred

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He walked away to return to his gear and position when he felt a little poke to his leg. The dog was looking up at him with deep, imploring eyes. This was the beginning of a tight bond, the dog wanted to be loved. “Looks like you made a friend!” a fellow marine called out. However, Craig heard “looks like a Fred!” They quickly became inseparable. Craig knew, of course, there was a chance he and his pooch would have to separate at some point, but that didn’t stop him from giving Fred love.

#8. They Became Friends

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After removing all the bugs with the help from a fellow marine, there was nothing stopping Craig and Fred from becoming closer and closer. They slept together, patrolled together, and played together. They started to become closer and closer, which made things very difficult for the marine, who didn’t want to leave the poor dog. That’s when he decided to introduce his furry buddy to their marine buddies…

#7. The Other Marines Started To Appreciate Him Too

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The good-spirited Fred earned the hearts of other Marines in the base. He came to represent a beacon of light in that dark place.

#6. An Epic Rescue Story

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However, Craig’s time in Afghanistan was coming to an end, and he was in no way ready to say goodbye to his new dog. Since their bond was too important to him, he began to hatch a plan. Craig and his comrades were to be flown in helicopters to Camp Leatherneck, a place for marines to rest; he needed to smuggle Fred on board.

#5. Time To Go

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A few days later, the choppers arrived. Even Craig’s sergeant was willing to help transport the dog, so the plan was set into motion. However, as the helicopters landed, Fred was nowhere to be seen — and it was time to go.

#4. He Kept Fred Hidden

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Suddenly, Craig felt a familiar poke at his heel. It was Fred! Even though Fred was frightened, Craig took it as a sign Fred was ready to go with him anywhere, and the marines smuggled the dog in his duffel bag. However, even at Camp Leatherneck, he still needed to remain hidden, and Craig needed to get him the paperwork so the dog could fly to the U.S. There, he could stay with Craig’s loved ones until his return.

#3. Getting Home

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In the following weeks, Fred made frequent visits to the vet to get authorization. Before he could get the okay, however, the time came for Craig to return to the field of battle in Sangin. With the help of a crew of DHL workers, a sympathetic vet, and a military dog handler, Fred eventually made it to Craig’s family in Virginia. Now all Fred had to do was wait for Craig’s time in Afghanistan to come to an end.

#2. A Bond That Will Last A Lifetime

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Months later, Craig came home to join Fred. But Craig was changed — he had been through hell and back, and it showed. As he tried to adjust to civilian life, Craig was plagued by nightmares; being in large crowds frightened him, and he wouldn’t talk to anybody. He realized then how much he needed Fred. The goofy dog helped Craig start conversations with new people, gently bringing him back into the world. Fred’s presence by his side often gave him a reason to open up, it even got him talking to a very special woman named Nora. Fred’s joy touched everyone who met him. Suddenly, Craig realized that other people needed to hear not only his stories but Fred’s as well. Fred’s sweet nature saved both of their lives.  In those difficult moments in which everything seemed grim, Fred’s attitude became a way for Craig to remember that there was good in the world. That was a message he wanted others to know.

#1. Traveling The Country With Fred To Help Others Dealing With PTSD

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With Fred in his mind and at his side Craig was ready to keep moving forward. He enrolled in Georgetown University and began to heal from his PTSD. After graduation, Craig wrote his own memoirs: Craig and Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, And How They Rescued Each Other. He started traveling across the country as a speaker, accompanied by his girlfriend Nora, their other dog Ruby, and of course, the star of the show, Fred himself. Craig’s mission was to help others see how hope, resilience, and optimism can affect their life choices. He wanted people to remember that when things seem most dark, there will always be a reason to find joy and continue onward.

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