Airman's Best Friend
By Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington, 148th Fighter Wing
/ Published November 22, 2010
DULUTH, Minn. -- While stationed in Kuwait, Staff Sgt. Wayne Jenderny, a fire fighter from the 148th Fighter Wing, made a friend. Sophie, a collie mix, had been tugging at the heart strings of Sgt. Jenderny and his co-workers while she made a habit of visiting their fire hall.
Many of the firemen deployed to Kuwait had dogs back home, and having Sophie around their fire hall was a familiar, much needed comfort. The culture in Kuwait does not treat dogs as pets--they are wild, living on the streets and prone to disease.
The deciding factor regarding Sophie's adoption took place after a night of adventure. The fire hall that Sgt. Jenderny had been working out of needed to be closed, and the firemen along with their trucks were to be moved to a different hall--three miles across base. At this point in time, it had been determined by airfield management that Sophie had grown too curious in her explorations of the ramp, and that she needed to be captured and euthanized, or relocated.
Sophie had taken to lying under a particular fire truck, and was frequently spotted lounging while the firemen went about their duties. On the last day that Sgt. Jenderny's fire hall was in use, a cage was placed with food in it, in an effort to capture Sophie. Rather than take the free meal, Sophie went on a three mile journey across the base during the night. The next morning, she was found lying under the same truck.
The Army K-9 unit on base had a veterinarian on hand, and after explaining the situation, he agreed to do a complete work-up on Sophie in his spare time. This included quarantining Sophie, the operation required to spay her, a microchip, and a complete battery of vaccinations.
Sgt. Jenderny then got in contact with a veterinarian in Rochester, Minn., and told him about Sophie's situation. Sophie would require a home outside of the city, away from traffic, and for the sake of safety, a family without small children. Not long after, Sgt. Jenderny was notified that a family had been found for Sophie, and the plan to get Sophie stateside was set in motion.
Over the course of a week, Sgt. Jenderny and his coworkers took turns housebreaking and leash training Sophie--making her as close to domesticated as possible prior to sending her to America.
A commercial flight to America was to be Sophie's ticket to a better life and Sgt. Jenderny, along with his coworkers, pooled enough money to purchase her plane ticket. Nearly $1,300 later, Sophie arrived in America on Sept. 11, 2010--a day normally associated with far darker implications.
Sophie's new home is in Eyota, Minn., a farming community east of Rochester. Her new family already has two rescued dogs and one of Sophie's new owners works in the pediatric section of the Mayo Clinic--specifically in the therapy dog program. Sophie is enrolled in the year long therapy dog course, and if all goes well, will be improving the lives of hospitalized children.