Donations needed to reunite Marine with four-legged friend

Published: Oct. 18, 2012 at 7:45 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:03 AM CST
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Marine Shaun Duling befriended Bolt, a stray dog, while serving in Afghanistan.
Marine Shaun Duling befriended Bolt, a stray dog, while serving in Afghanistan.

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Former Lubbock Marine Carlos Plata has made it his mission to help out a fellow Marine bring home his best friend.

Plata spent two deployments with Marine Sergeant Shaun Duling from Virginia, and when he found out Shaun was in need of help he immediately stepped up to contribute. "Marines, we not only keep in contact with each other, but we take care of each other," Plata said.

Recently Shaun came back from a job in Afghanistan, but he was forced to leave behind a friend he had grown close to over the months.

His name is Bolt and he's a stray dog in Afghanistan. When Shaun was sent overseas last October, the two instantly had a bond that could not be broken. Shaun spent his days taking care of Bolt, bringing him food, building him a dog house, and in return Bolt gave Shaun a companion that made life easier while alone in Afghanistan.

"After that he took to me, and since I got there everywhere I went he was pretty much by my side or behind me," Shaun said.

Shaun and Bolt grew closer as the days passed, but one morning the commander of the base ordered all the dogs be removed. Shaun would have to say goodbye. "I had made a collar for him, so I took it off. I wanted to have his collar to hold on to as a memento," Shaun said.

Bolt with the others were loaded up and taken to a village, but even distance could not break their bond. "Bolt apparently ran behind the convoy for 10 miles or so before the vehicle commander let him back on. It was pitch black, 3 o'clock in the morning and all of a sudden out of nowhere, Bolt just comes running full speed behind me," Shaun said. "He half scared me to death. It was a good feeling having your buddy back."

Then the time came where Shaun had to leave, and Bolt had to stay behind. "As I was walking to the helicopter I tried to get some of the guys to hold on to him, but he broke free and he tried to jump on with me," Shaun said. "I think he knew I was leaving, and leaving for good. He just looked sad and confused and I was just like that can't be the last time I see him."

The friendship was too strong to be broken, however, and Shaun searched for ways to bring his friend home.

Finding the non-profit Nowzad, Shaun found the solution but it was a pricey one. It costs $4,000 to bring him to the U.S.

"I understand how important this dog is to Shaun, and Shaun being a great guy that he is… that's why I want to help," Plata said. Plata has been spreading the word since last month, and the donations have been pouring in. As of 7p.m. on Thursday less than $200 dollars is needed.

If you would like to read Shaun and Bolt's story or make a donation, click here.

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