I need to start slipping a notepad and a pen in my back pocket when my dogs and I go to Great Falls’ dog park: there are so many fun stories to be found there.
Yesterday Chachi, Jillie and I met Ed Plant and his dog, Tina. Ed is an Air Force reservist. Tina is the Anatolian shepherd mix he brought back from Afghanistan a year ago.
We’ve all read stories about the accidental dogs of war and the soldiers who bond with them and wind up taking on all sorts of logistical hassles to get them back to the states. From Baghdad with Love, the story of a marine, Jay Kopelman, and the dog he adopted in Iraq, is probably the best known example. Well, Tina was no different. She appeared at Ed’s FOB (Forward Operating Base) as a barely weaned pup. The guys there took her in, fed her and played with her, and in no time she was a fixture, a source of entertainment and an object of affection all in one. It’s easy to see why: Tina is tan, short-haired and one of those dogs that wears a perpetual grin. “Anatolian” is Turkish for black face, which she has.
Ed’s base was in the middle of nowhere (don’t ask me where. I wasn’t taking notes) and was lacking the usual amenities. Tina’s presence was a total morale booster, especially for Ed. He and Tina bonded the most — the last six months they were there she even slept in Ed’s bed.
When Ed’s tour of duty was up, he asked if he could bring Tina back to Montana with him. His superiors told him: absolutely. These things are never easy, however. Ed was able to fly home directly, but Tina’s route involved three or four stops and a six-week quarantine. How fearful she must have been! She no doubt assumed she would never see Ed again. When she finally arrived in Montana two months later, she landed at 11:30 p.m. in Billings, 220 miles from Great Falls. Ed was there to pick her up and Tina has been his loyal companion ever since. Ed was quick to add that his wife, Amber, who was a bit skeptical at the idea of introducing Tina to the couple’s three cats, has been won over too. “She spoils Tina more than I do,” he laughed.
The bond between dogs and humans never surprises me, because I know how deep it can go. Still, Ed and Tina’s story is special. I hope to cross paths with them again.