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Spc. Charles Weaser, 21, from Renton, Wash., helps care for a hawk that Iraqis gave to soldiers at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. Weaser is an M240 gunner with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

Spc. Charles Weaser, 21, from Renton, Wash., helps care for a hawk that Iraqis gave to soldiers at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. Weaser is an M240 gunner with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)

Spc. Charles Weaser, 21, from Renton, Wash., helps care for a hawk that Iraqis gave to soldiers at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. Weaser is an M240 gunner with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

Spc. Charles Weaser, 21, from Renton, Wash., helps care for a hawk that Iraqis gave to soldiers at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. Weaser is an M240 gunner with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)

Eleven puppies call Range 54 home. They can be found napping near the red Rakkasan gate (in background) or playing with soldiers at the camp in Sinjar, Iraq.

Eleven puppies call Range 54 home. They can be found napping near the red Rakkasan gate (in background) or playing with soldiers at the camp in Sinjar, Iraq. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)

Sgt. Ted Varney, 27, a communications team chief from San Francisco, plays with a puppy. Varney is with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

Sgt. Ted Varney, 27, a communications team chief from San Francisco, plays with a puppy. Varney is with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. (Kendra Helmer / Stripes)

Sapper Cat bats at a toy at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. She lives with Company C, 326th Engineering Battalion, attached to the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

Sapper Cat bats at a toy at Range 54 in Sinjar, Iraq. She lives with Company C, 326th Engineering Battalion, attached to the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)

SINJAR, Iraq — Some of the gruffest, toughest soldiers are reduced to baby talk when they see Stinky the dog with her brood. A litter of little fur balls can do that. Actually, several stray animals have that effect on soldiers at Range 54, a remote camp in Sinjar in northwest Iraq.

In addition to various canines and their puppies, the unintentional menagerie also includes a hawk and a cat. Playing with and comforting the critters raises their spirits, say soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky.

Though the soldiers look forward to going home sometime early next year, they don’t like to talk about leaving the animals. They hope that whoever takes over the camp will take over the responsibility of spoiling their temporary pets.

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