The strength of the bond with a canine companion is something only a dog lover can know.
Imagine how strong that bond would be if you were stationed in a combat zone with the military and became the sole source of survival for a dog in need. That is the story of Mercy and Lt. Col. Kevin Banks from San Antonio, Texas who met while Kevin was stationed in Afghanistan. Banks, a radiologist, first met Mercy, a Shepherd or Shepherd mix, when she was flown into his station as a patient. Due to her breed, when she was found wandering the streets, the military personnel first assumed she was a working dog. Banks was to use his skills to search for a hidden microchip in case she was chipped already. After searching, Banks and the veterinarian team simply could not find it. It was then ruled that Mercy was not a working dog and was a stray. Kevin could not bear to see her returned to a life on the street where she would undoubtedly meet a horrible demise or be put down and immediately began trying to save her. She lived and worked with Kevin for weeks while he researched ways for her to get home.
Nancy Banks, Kevin’s wife who is also with the US Army, and was back at home in San Antonio, began researching organizations who could assist them and discovered Nowzad Dogs. The Banks worked with Nowzad over the next several months, and Mercy started her long journey home through many areas of Afghanistan. Mercy visited several posts and then spent some time at the Nowzad shelter and then proceeded to a 14-hour flight to Houston to be reunited with Kevin and his wife.
I was notified that Mercy would be arriving in Houston and could not wait to meet her and chronicle her arrival from the first moments she saw Kevin, when she met Nancy, and her first steps on US soil. The gallery below is a series of photos from Mercy’s arrival I took and displayed in my Instagram feed for LIFE+DOG as we prepared an article on the group.
Nowzad has a fundraising arm in the United States for tax-deductible donations. Find more information on the Soldiers’ Animal Companions Fund by clicking here.
This article was written by LIFE+DOG publisher Brett Chisholm.
To read more from Brett, visit his blog on our site.