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Befriended by soldier, 'blessing' dog from Kuwait makes new home in US

By STEPHEN HUBA | The Tribune-Review | Published: November 26, 2018

(Tribune News Service) — Of all the things that Randy Baker expected to get out of his deployment to Kuwait, a canine companion was not one of them.

Stationed at Camp Buehring in northwestern Kuwait since May, the Army engineer met the dog that he came to name Oreo in July. Now, with the help of a Texas-based nonprofit, Oreo has become a permanent part of Baker’s family in Bear Rocks, Fayette County.

“He was sending me pictures constantly and talking about Oreo,” said his wife, Jessica Baker, 42. “I told him, ‘It’s a shame there’s not a way you could bring her home.’”

The black-and-white female mixed breed arrived at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia on Wednesday, and Jessica Baker picked up Friday in Hagerstown, Md.

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Accompanying the dog was a volunteer from the Puppy Rescue Mission, a Celina, Texas-based nonprofit organization that facilitates dog and cat adoptions by military personnel serving overseas. Its motto is “Soldiers Saving Puppies – Puppies Saving Soldiers.”

Randy Baker learned about the organization soon after meeting Oreo, Jessica Baker said.

“She would come out of hiding every morning when my husband was there. He would give her water and food, and she would just hang out with him while he was working,” his wife said.

Baker, 43, has served in the Army for nearly 20 years. He said he “fell in love” with Oreo the moment he saw her walking toward him.

“She is so friendly (despite) the hardships she endures on a daily basis. Every morning she sees me she will come running and won’t leave my side until I get in my vehicle and drive away,” Baker posted on Facebook . “Lately though when I go to leave she will sit on the road directly in front of me, I tried to get a picture of her doing this but as soon as I open my door she comes running to me. She is a delight and makes me smile every time I look at her. She has been nothing short of a blessing for me on this deployment.”

The Puppy Rescue Mission also facilitates donations to help cover the cost of transporting the animal to the United States. Baker’s fundraising campaign , which ended Oct. 29, raised $3,116.

Oreo was taken to a veterinarian and put under quarantine for a month, said Baker’s mother, Jackie Sakal, of Kecksburg.

“She is just the cutest little thing. My son is so thrilled to bring her back home,” Sakal said.

Oreo will become part of a family that already has two pets – a 4-year-old black Labrador retriever named Mel and a 10-year-old cat named Daisy. Both animals were rescued through a local shelter, Jessica Baker said.

“My dog is very pet-friendly. I don’t see there being a problem,” she said. “He needs a playmate. We’ve been talking about getting another dog, so this was the avenue to make it happen.”

Jessica Baker expects her husband back in January, and he soon plans to retire.

Deployed with the U.S. Army Reserve 143 rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Orlando, Fla., he previously was attached to the 316 th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Coraopolis.

“I will be so happy when she is in my home where she will never have to worry about the dangers of the desert, starvation, dehydration or mean people ever again,” Baker wrote on Facebook. “She has been a blessing to me and I look forward to repaying her for what she did for me for the rest of her life.”

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