We all have stories about where we met our soulmates. Sometimes those stories are mundane, other times they are downright unbelievable. For one marine and his best friend, the special place where they met was in the deserts and battlefields of Afghanistan.
But meeting in such a place meant that continuing their friendship would be fraught with serious issues. Not least of which: getting permission to bring that friend back home, not to mention the rigors and dangers of combat.
So, this marine decided to embark on a quest: He would smuggle his furry little friend back to the United States. But once they both returned safely, this special little friend would return the favor in ways that, to this day, continue to inspire both the marine and all those who hear his story.
Sergeant Craig Grossi was serving in Afghanistan when he met Fred, the dog who would change his life.
In 2010, Sergeant Craig Grossi, of the United States Marine Corps, had just come off a week of hard fighting against Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan when he met an unlikely friend—a “goofy-looking” dog, with matted fur and covered in bugs.
“As I got a little bit closer he started to wag his tail, and that really just froze me, because that is the last thing I thought he would do,” Grossi told People.
Grossi fed the dog, who he named Fred, a few pieces of jerky from his pack. He was instantly entranced by the little pup. The feeling was mutual and the two felt an instant connection with one another. At that moment, their first meeting, Grossi hatched his plan to bring Fred home.
“I had a little conversation with Fred,” Grossi said. “I said ‘Look this is risky man, if you really want this, I just need you to follow me to the helicopter.’”
The little dog agreed, and, afraid, he followed Grossi onto the helicopter and into a duffel bag. The easy part was over.
If Grossi was caught there could have been serious consequences.
Grossi then had to hide the little dog while on base. He was not permitted to keep a pet and if he was found out, there could be some serious consequences. Still, he was resolved to get Fred home any way he could.
First, he needed to know if Fred was healthy. So, he had Fred checked out by a British military veterinarian who gave Fred a clean bill of health. Grossi then, secretly, shipped the dog back to the United States.
“That was all I wanted, because I wasn’t sure if I would make it back or not,” Grossi told People.
Thankfully, Grossi did make it back and that was when Fred started to give back.
Transitioning to a life back home was difficult for Grossi—but Fred’s example inspired him to always have a positive outlook.
Grossi retired from military service and began working different jobs in the United States. For any soldier transitioning into civilian life, the change can be jarring. But Grossi had Fred who was supporting him every step of the way.
“When I would come home from a job I wasn’t crazy about, and I had just spent eight hours behind a desk where it felt like it didn’t matter if I was there or not, Fred was a reminder that I could do something great and worthwhile,” Grossi told People.
Fred inspired Grossi to always be positive. Stubbornly positive, in fact. This “stubborn positivity” was the driving force for Grossi to write their story into a book, Craig and Fred: A Marine, a Stray Dog and How They Rescued Each Other.
People loved their story for the friendship that Fred and Grossi had, but also because of the inspiration this plucky little dog gave to his best friend.
For Grossi, though, the story of how they met will always be an incredible moment in his life.
“What has this dog got to wag his tail about? Absolutely nothing,” Grossi said recalling the first time he met Fred. “He’s never been shown any love, any compassion by a person, he’s covered in bugs, he’s hot and hungry, but he’s wagging his tail at me.”
That summarizes Fred’s philosophy for Grossi.
“No matter how miserable you might be, how hard things might be, you can always wag your tail.”
“It could’ve gone wrong 100 different ways at any moment, but that just makes our story more special,” Grossi told People.
The two recently had a book tour to promote the book—and while Grossi was happy to share his story with the world, Fred was just happy meeting and playing with new people.