Gwenie dog saved by Puppy Rescue Mission

Wartime tail, part 2: Finding U.S. homes for orphaned dogs

A connection made in a war zone continues as two friends provide homes for two dogs from the same litter that were orphaned in Amman, Jordan.

November 19, 2015

Last November, we introduced you to Army Sgt. Sarah Dean and Poptart – a story that inspired another Wells Fargo team member to volunteer with Puppy Rescue Mission. In this follow-up piece we check back in with the organization and those it serves.

Lt. Cassie Wyllie’s Apache helicopter — with machine guns blazing — swooped in at just the right moment to save military author and historian John Bruning and others aboard a Chinook helicopter that had come under attack from the ground in Ajerestan, one of Afghanistan’s district capitals.

That connection made in a war zone continues today as Cassie (in Texas) and John (in Oregon) provide homes for two dogs from the same litter that had been orphaned in Amman, Jordan.

Gwenie and Penny are among nearly 1,000 animals rescued to date by the Puppy Rescue Mission — a Texas-based nonprofit founded in 2010 by a military wife. The group works to reunite U.S. soldiers with the pets they befriend in war zones around the world.

While stationed in Jordan, Cassie found four starving pups in a makeshift den with no sign of their mother and quickly arranged for off-base foster care. But only Gwenie and Penny were strong enough to survive.

“It’s because of Cassie that I learned about her efforts to find homes for Gwenie and Penny,” John says. “About this time last year, she got Penny, and I got Gwenie — both of whom have proved wonderful additions to our families. I know that neither Gwenie nor I would even be alive today without Cassie.”

Gwenie and Penny in Amman, Jordan
Army Lt. Cassie Wyllie and Penny
Cassie Wyllie pilots Apache helicopter over Afghanistan
Lt. Cassie Wyllie in Apache helicopter cockpit
Ed Bruning snuggles Gwenie
Thea Shepherd holds Gwenie at O’Hare International Airport
John Bruning with Gwenie
Cassie found Gwenie and Penny in a litter of pups living in a makeshift shelter in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by John Bruning)
A photo of Cassie with Penny appears on one of the holiday greeting cards Linda created for Puppy Rescue Mission.
John snapped this photo of Cassie’s Apache helicopter after it made its strafing run and noticed the Rosie the Riveter decal on the helmet of the pilot in front. (Photo by John Bruning)
Later, he met its wearer (then-Lt. Cassie Wyllie) and thanked Cassie and crew member Chief Warrant Officer Scott Reagan for saving his life. (Photo by John Bruning)
Gwenie snuggles with John’s son Ed on the way home from the airport. (Photo by John Bruning)
Thea of Wells Fargo Advisors had met Gwenie (above) and Penny at O’Hare International Airport and helped them safely get to Cassie in Nevada and John in Oregon.
John says Gwenie is both a reminder of his bond with Cassie and what they experienced in Afghanistan and a devoted companion. (Photo by John Bruning)

Both dogs traveled to the U.S. by air and came through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Thea Shepherd of Wells Fargo Advisors in Deerfield, Illinois, worked with them as part of the Puppy Rescue Mission’s “greeting team.”

She says, “Gwenie and Penny were part of my first mission after being approved as a volunteer. After the dogs were handed over to us on arrival, we fed them, cleaned them, took them to the vet for their health certificates, got them all settled in for the night, and then made sure they got off the next day to complete their flights to their new homes.”

The Puppy Rescue Mission team in Chicago also occasionally drives dogs to owners whose homes are in the Midwest.

Cassie, retired from the Army as a captain and now preparing to become a K-9 cop, says she can’t thank Puppy Rescue Mission and its volunteers enough. “They were tender and loving with Gwenie and Penny all along the way — great animal lovers and patriots.”

Adds John, “Gwenie is a reminder of my bond with Cassie and what we experienced over in Afghanistan. Gwenie’s also a devoted companion whose bond with me has grown exceptionally close over the past six months. We have explored the Coast Range together, wandered the woods around Detroit Lake, taken walks among the ruins of Camp Adair, and shared many moments on the Oregon coast. None would have been possible without Puppy Rescue Mission.”

Read more about Cassie, John, and their dogs in John’s American Warriors blog.

Cassie and Penny also are featured on a Holiday Sparkle card in the Puppy Rescue Mission’s 2015 seasonal holiday greeting card collection, which serve as a fundraiser for the nonprofit. The cards are designed by another Wells Fargo team member, Linda Norwood.

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