He snored loudly throughout the journey back to base. Back at camp, I carried him into my room, placed him on my soft duvet and left him to snore a little longer.
It was too late for a new name now so I just changed it to Barrie. Problem solved.
For the main photo, I put my military vest on the ground alongside my rifle and placed Barrie inside it, with her head and paws sticking out of the top. While we waited for more money to come in, she often came to work with me.
That night, I washed his blood from my body in the shower block and returned to my bedroom where Barrie had only one thought on her mind: cuddles. Carrying her slender body in my arms, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I tried to discipline her, but she turned me and everyone else into big softies who played by her rules, including our Malaysian chefs who reserved her a special plate of delicacies each day, grilled chicken being her favourite.
They would squeal when they saw her coming. Barrie brought out that childlike giddiness in people — even the six massive Navy Seals who came into our office one day, towering over everyone and with faces that looked ready for war. I stood up, preparing myself for a firm handshake to match their stern demeanour, but then one of them spotted Barrie and they all dissolved, taking turns to fuss over her.
When she saw a picture of her, Netty decided she was going to be her mum. Planning our lives as parents brought us closer together, transforming our friendship into a relationship. Making a brief trip home that March for a wedding, I was about to fly back to Syria when I learned that, due to the country becoming increasingly unstable, our contracts had been cancelled. All my mates were being flown home.
From there she went into quarantine in Jordan and so began the long wait for her return — at least three months, even if everything went swimmingly. I was her dad and that motivated me to keep pushing myself as I worked on the home which Netty and I would share with her. So I converted the shed in their back garden into a little cabin, just big enough for the three of us. Finally, in October last year, and after several false starts, we got the long-awaited call to say that Barrie was being put on a flight to Paris. Netty and I booked tickets on the Eurotunnel and drove the miles to Charles de Gaulle Airport to meet her.
In arrivals, we heard the distant barks of what sounded like a violent pack of dogs.
I thought there must be at least four of them but there were no other angry mutts. Only Barrie, who was in a crate and losing her mind.
Seven months had led to this moment, and now I just felt sad. But she was calmer by the time we got to our tiny Nissan Micra in which she could fit only by sticking her head through the middle of the two front seats, just like in Syria.
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She fell asleep almost as soon as we started driving and during a break in a layby a few hours later, she started sniffing my leg, then fell to the ground by my feet, her belly facing up and her paws reaching out for me. She wanted to play.
de.tukozokofosi.tk She knew who I was. Back in our converted shed the next morning, I let her out to do her essentials then she bounded back in and up on to the bed, her tail wagging uncontrollably as she lay on my chest. It put a smile on my face although, unused to her increased weight, I struggled to breathe. I had to carry her. Barrie was now 27 kilos and I felt every step, but I would do anything for her because that dusty little creature I found buried in the rubble has had such a profound effect on me.
Meeting her was the best day of my life. One day a man sits across from he She's proud, strong, brave, and she would put her life on the line for the country she loves What happens when you fall in love with a person that's sixteen years older than you?
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