When Sean Laidlaw found a puppy in the middle of war-torn Syria, he couldn’t believe the dog was still alive. He immediately realized that he needed to save the pup’s life. This is the story of a soldier’s dog, and the soldier’s incredible efforts to bring his beloved puppy home from Syria.
Sean Laidlaw is a British soldier, working in Syria as a private contractor and lead of a bomb disposal team. On one assignment, the 30-year-old soldier found something that changed his life: a puppy.
Laidlaw found the helpless, shivering dog among the rubble of a destroyed building. He sectioned the puppy away, to keep her safe, and brought her food and water. Understandably, the dog was terrified, and it took a few days for her to trust the solider and let him pet her and take care of her. While getting to know each other, Laidlaw named the dog Barrie. Soon, however, she was, without a doubt, the soldier’s dog.
Afterward, Laidlaw quickly fell in love with Barrie, taking her everywhere with him. He even made her a harness from a bulletproof vest and a teddy bear made of old jeans! Barrie regularly joined Laidlaw on assignments around Raqqa.
Laidlaw said, “When we got back to camp, she lived in my room, I looked after her, I was responsible for her. She slept in my room. I was training her, I was feeding her. She stayed with me every day all day. She did jobs with me; I’d wake up, she’d come eat with me; she’d then sit in the passenger seat of my car when we drove to Raqqa.”
Raising Money For The Soldier’s Dog
After four months in Syria, Laidlaw’s company informed him he would return home and his contract wouldn’t be renewed. Laidlaw was incredibly happy to return home, but was sad to leave his best friend, Barrie, behind. So Laidlaw decided he’d do everything to get Barrie home to the UK with him.
The long process began with Laidlaw phoning War Paws, a charity based in Iraq which specializes in reuniting dogs from war zones with their soldier owners. Then, Laidlaw started the difficult task of raising over £4,500 (about $5,100) to get Barrie to the UK.
Next, Laidlaw needed to get Barrie to War Paws headquarters in Iraq to be checked and vaccinated. Finally, Barrie had to spend two months in quarantine in Jordan, before moving on to the UK. Laidlaw was all ready to fly to Jordan and get his beloved furry pal after seven months of waiting. Luckily, the owner of War Paws, Louise Hastie, already planned on traveling with two other dogs to Paris. After months of waiting, a reunion date was finally set!
And so, On November 3, Laidlaw reunited with Barrie. He took the 12-hour train from Essex to Paris, where he and Barrie met after nearly seven months. Of that touching moment, Laidlaw said it was the “happiest moment of his life.” He doesn’t feel like he saved Barrie’s life – but that she saved his.
“You can only imagine how bad Syria is, and to be able to come back to the camp and train her for three hours, take her for a walk, things like that – really took my mind away from where I was. It gave me a bit of normality, she definitely kept me sane. Having a companion is one of the best things to help with PTSD. A dog always makes you happy, always wants to be with you.”
Laidlaw said bringing Barrie home with him is “surreal.” He admitted to worrying that Barrie wouldn’t recognize him, but those fears faded as the soldier’s dog jumped on him with love and excitement. “I’d be willing to travel across the whole world to have Barrie with me.”
Today, Barrie is a happy, healthy dog, who trains and explores the outdoors with her fantastic new family. She also has her own Instagram account where you can keep up with all her latest shenanigans. We love all dogs, and wish Barrie and Laidlaw nothing but the best!