Ex-soldier Reunites With Puppy That He Saved From Rubble Pile in Syria

April 23, 2019 Updated: April 24, 2019

Private contractor Sean Laidlaw, from Essex, made an unlikely furry friend while working overseas, whom he credits with saving his life. During that time, Laidlaw was part of a bomb disposal unit working in a Syrian warzone.

Barrie was a whimpering puppy when Laidlaw first found her hiding under a rubble pile—in the remains of what had once been a school after a huge explosion had destroyed it. There were four dead puppies surrounding Barrie when they found her, and she was frightened.

Posted by Sean Laidlaw on Thursday, March 1, 2018

The 30-year-old contractor won Barrie’s trust by giving her food and water, and petting her, and eventually was able to lift her out of her hiding place. Three days later, they were inseparable, and remained together for the duration of Laidlaw’s stay.

After four months in Syria, Laidlaw’s contract was unexpectedly ended during his leave in the United Kingdom with Barrie still in Syria, and it became apparent that they would remain separated indefinitely. Laidlaw was determined that they be reunited as soon as possible.

“I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine,” said Laidlaw.

Posted by Sean Laidlaw on Thursday, March 15, 2018

“Working in a war zone, coming back to camp you sit in your room on your own. To have a companion you can play with and train, it kept my mind away from all the things I was seeing and doing out there.

“You can only imagine how bad Syria is, and to be able to come back to the camp and train her for three hours, take her for a walk, things like that really took my mind away from where I was. It gave me a bit of normality, she definitely kept me sane.”

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In November 2018, however, they were reunited, thanks largely to charity War Paws in Iraq, which seeks to send dogs back home with people returning from warzones. They helped Laidlaw send Barrie from Syria to Iraq in April 2018, where she was vaccinated and checked before sending her to Jordon in August 2018, where she was quarantined for 2 months.

Laidlaw soon learned that Barrie, who was expected to be flown to Heathrow Airport, was stranded in Jordan because of missing documents. But thankfully, War Paws owner Louis Hastie happened to be flying from Jordan with two dogs to Paris, and Barrie was able to hitch a ride with them.

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“Having a companion, is one of the best things to help with PTSD,” said Laidlaw. “A dog always makes you happy, always wants to be with you.

“Going to Paris was both exciting and nerve-wracking, but I left the house at 6am and just sped there.

“Meeting her at the airport, seeing her in the flesh, was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve never been so happy.

“It was pure joy when she realized who I was. She’s exactly as she was back in Syria, it was just great to have my dog again.”

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