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Friday, 9 December 2011

Reason To Smile- A Heartfelt Mission to Rescue Peg

Many may say that daytime telly is filled only with trivial celebrity drivel; but as someone who has had to rely on such entertainment for sanity over the last five years when I've been stuck in bed unable to concentrate on a book or even a DVD due to the cognitive effects of my morphine- I can assure you that it does often throw up some fantastic stories of courage and inspiration.
One such story that you may have missed this morning if unlike me you have a job, children to run around after, or maybe just a life in general- was that of the late Conrad Lewis, who's family will have an incredibly difficult Christmas as the 22yr old soldier was shot dead in Helmand province earlier this year.
Conrad's parents and siblings appeared on the This Morning couch this morning with one other very special guest accompanying  them.
Whilst serving in Afghanistan Conrad befriended a beautiful and loyal companion in Peg, a local dog who would follow him and his colleagues everywhere, even the front line where she would lay down next to the soldiers.
In Conrad's 'blueys' that he would send home to his family, he would always regale tales of his four-legged friend and expressed his wish of if anything were to happen to him that he would love his Peg to be saved and brought home.
The family had no doubt that they would ever not fulfil their son's wishes as they knew of the comfort and companionship that this dog had given him whilst he was in one of the world's most dangerous places. This extraordinary mission was made possible by help from the charity Nowzad.
Nowzad was started by Sergeant “Pen Farthing” of 42 Commando of TheRoyal Marines.
After being deployed to the war torn town of Now Zad in the Helmand Province in 2006,
Pen was soon to realise that it was not just the local people who needed help in providing stability to their area, but there were indeed many dogs in this province that needed a lot of help also.

Taken from the Nowzad website Pen's own words recount..
….“When we first arrived in the town of Now Zad I broke up a dog fight that was taking place right outside our remote compound. What I didn’t know was that one of those fighting dogs would then befriend me! I couldn’t say no to those big sad eyes, the now very former fighting dog, became my buddy and found himself a name – Nowzad”.

 Pen and his colleagues went to incredible lengths to get the dogs that they had become so attached to home to safety. Dog lovers the world over heard of these men's actions and joined with them to help save these creatures who without their help would certainly die of starvation, cold or do fighting.
You'll be pleased to hear that Nowzad made it home and in May 2007 the charity Nowzad was formed and registered in the UK – number 1119185.
To hear the full story of Pen and his incredible achievements, please visit the Nowzad website http://www.nowzad.com/about/ or read Pen Farthings book 'One Dog At A Time', which actually sits proudly on our bookshelf at home as Garry read it on one recent deployment to Afghan himself.
Anyone who owns a dog can vouch for the love, companionship and comfort that they bring into our lives.
My husband can also vouch how being in a war zone can compound these feelings, as in such a unique, stressful and at times harrowing environment, one understandably looks for any comfort that can be found, and in Garry's case it was watching one young amercian woman try to savee the innocent life of a puppy she was secretly keeping and so can understand to some degree the love that Conrad Lewis must have felt for this creature he had become so attached to.
I'm aware that today's Reason to Smile, fits in to both of my perhaps all too regular of categories of dogs and the military, but I'm sure you'll agree with me that it is wonderful that the incredibly sad situation of this family's incomprehensible loss is eased even ever so slightly by the pure unconditional love of one dog who their son loved so very much.
Although I hereby enclose a link to the written story on the Daily Telegraph website, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/onthefrontline/8927439/Family-of-para-killed-in-Helmand-adopt-his-Afghan-dog.html I urge you to watch the clip of the This Morning interview on ITV player http://www.itv.com/ITVPlayer/
to witness the incredible nature of this sweet hearted dog, in spite her desperately sad start in life.
This story made me cry and smile in equal measure.
My thoughts are with the Lewis family this very difficult Christmas.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. If you're able, please spare a thought and if you are so inclined, a prayer for those serving in war zones away from their families this Christmas period and for those who never made it home to their families at all.

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