Sgt. Jason Roberts met his best friend in a war zone.
Roberts joined the Army in 2004 and was supposed to be discharged next month but he reenlisted and was redeployed with his Special Forces Airborne unit to Afghanistan. That's where he met a stray dog, not an uncommon thing for soldiers in the region.
But this dog touched Roberts' heart in a way that he can't forget.
The 26-year-old met the mutt while on a patrol with a film crew from National Geographic. He was clearing roadside bombs for the crew when the vehicle ahead of them exploded, the Times Herald reports, killing two of Roberts' friends and fellow soldiers.
He named the young yellow Lab/German shepherd-looking mix Sandy and the two formed a tight bond. Sandy lifts Roberts' spirits when he returns from patrols and when he leaves Kandahar later this month, he doesn't want to leave his 4-legged comrade behind.
A rescue group in Afghanistan offers hope for Sandy and other strays but the problem is their location. Sandy is in Khandahar and the group works out of Kabul, miles away. Crossing the war zone to get to the airport is a dangerous drive and there's no promise that paying someone to make the trip would guarantee delivery.
So, Roberts enlisted help from his mom, Chris, thousands of miles away in Fairfield, Calif. She set up the Roberts Rescue Fund to help raise money to safely bring Sandy to U.S. soil. Another pup, Sophie, is also in need of a safe home but she's too young to travel so the rescue group is keeping an eye on her for a while.
"We really want the emphasis to be on the guys," Chris said, "and how important these dogs are to them."