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Iowa soldier says goodbye to his best friend

Iowa Soldier Says Goodbye to His Best Friend

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI-TV) -The bond between man and his best friend is often incredibly strong especially when that bond is formed in the middle of war.

Four years ago this week, Staff Sergeant Brian Van Fleet met Odie and then spent thousands of dollars to bring the stray dog home from Afghanistan to Iowa.

"For six months we were there. We had no running water. We'd use baby wipes to shower," said Van Fleet. That corner of Afghanistan is where Van Fleet first laid eyes on his companion, Odie.

"They travel in packs and there was a lot of them, all over the place," said Van Fleet. "It took me a little time to kind of gain his trust and get him to come to me, but once I did, he was right there the whole time."

"A lot of the times during those stressful situations, a lot of those dogs were right there next to us. They'd come out on patrol with us," said Van Fleet.

He didn't want to leave Odie behind so he contacted an agency and for a couple thousand dollars had Odie shipped to Iowa.

"And then he sent us a picture. The dog laying in the sand and we're thinking, 'Boy this is kind of an ugly dog,'" said Linda Bullock, Van Fleet's mother.

He made it to Iowa and rejoined the unit for their welcome home ceremony.

"That dog was one of the best friends we had out there. He was out on patrol with us. He guarded our gate with us. He was a member of the team just like anybody else," said Van Fleet.

"There's no way to express the companionship of a dog you've been to a combat zone with," said Van Fleet. "He has helped me immensely, more than any therapy could."

A year ago, Odie broke out of his yard to wander like the way he had grown up. Van Fleet couldn't sleep. Johnston police found Odie and reunited him with Van Fleet.

Their next big challenge was a skin rash that started last spring and eventually spread to Odie's kidneys and lungs. Veterinarians still don't know what was making Odie sick.

"It's uh... probably one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life," said Van Fleet. He said he couldn't bear to watch his buddy suffer anymore.

"I was, I was right there holding him," said Van Fleet. "He was a comfort factor. You know what I mean? He was something familiar that I knew I could trust in."

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Welcome Sandy! July 23 2014 at 5:19 AM

Brian, Thanks you for giving this dog a decent life. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a love you had for Odie to do all you had to do to get him here to the states and to a better life. I know there will never be another Odie, but please, when the time is right, think about adopting another dog. There are so many that need homes. And thank you SIR for service. May God Bless you!

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midnitedip Welcome Sandy! July 23 2014 at 4:20 PM

couldnt have said it better .your so right .they really do rely on us as we them

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Brian Workman July 23 2014 at 2:15 AM

The dog died in his owners arms & not alone!

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petpetdon Brian Workman July 23 2014 at 2:08 PM

My two dogs died in my arms, one this past Sunday and the other August 24th last year. Tigger and Pooh Bear will be missed.

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aristocat101 July 23 2014 at 12:16 AM

im so sorry for the loss of your beloved dog, it is always sad when you lose a loved one.

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mouse July 23 2014 at 8:25 AM

Thank you for your service SGT. Thank you for saving the dog for a bit of time.

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jlkitts75 July 23 2014 at 8:31 AM

R.I.P. Odie, you were a good boy and a hero. See you at the Rainbow Bridge.
Brian - thank you. I hope you can find another companion.

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Linda July 23 2014 at 6:37 AM

First I want to say THANK YOU Staff Sergeant Brian Van Fleet for your service in the military and for fighting for this country of ours so we can have freedom. Second, I know how much it hurts to loose a beloved pet and it is never ever easy to put down a pet. It hurts. I am just glad you found this dog, brought him home, and loved him like you did. A dog will always be there by your side and always love you. Mans/womans best friend for sure. RIP Odie dog.

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snickellfritzz Linda July 23 2014 at 12:34 PM


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RavenLadyONE July 23 2014 at 2:48 AM

How heartbreaking. The redemption is rhat the dog KNEW he was loved.

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English July 23 2014 at 12:50 AM

A happy and sad story all in one but it sounds like the dog had finished his job..

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1 reply
henryusmale English July 23 2014 at 3:00 PM

Yes his job was finished.
He brought some peace of mind to his master.
I hope they can find a cure for what was wrong with that friend and it isn't something else that will spread in the U.S.

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badass July 23 2014 at 2:20 AM

RIP Odie. God bless u Brian and ur dog.

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1 reply
Buckingham's badass July 23 2014 at 2:27 AM

You said it. Rest in peace, Odie.

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skyadamoc July 23 2014 at 8:45 AM

He doesn't (the dog)look ugly to me.

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