For the past five years, Tangye, a black Labrador retriever, has been a faithful companion to the British military in Afghanistan. Patrolling with the soldiers of C Company, 3rd Battalion The Rifles (and surpassing most in tours of duty), Tangye has not only survived several gun battles but has also been a source of unfailing support for the troops. His can-do spirit — from being the first to jump into holes cleared in wall blasts to barking and wagging his tail in encouragement when soldiers are under fire — has endeared him to the troops stationed at the remote and treacherous base of Kajak.
"He was a morale boost as he was our own pet," Aaron Fell, an Ireland-based rifleman in the 2nd Battalion who once housed Tangye in his room in Afghanistan, tells PEOPLEPets.com. A small, friendly, funny canine who formed an "army of three" with two other dogs on-site, Tangye "was very brave. He would run at the front of the patrol. During one of our biggest contacts with the enemy — which went on for hours — we threw smoke grenades to cover us as we pulled out. We looked round and saw Tangye chasing the smoke grenades!"
But with the rise of improvised explosive devices, Tangye’s glorious days in battle may be numbered. Because the Taliban may target him as a "sniffer dog," his chances of getting blown up are increasingly likely. To save their beloved mascot, who was purchased from a dam worker and named for a village on the Helmand river, British soldiers began a campaign last October to bring the dog to the U.K. "He can't do what he loves doing over here anymore — it's too dangerous. It would mean an awful lot to the lads to know he was safe," Lance Cpl. Brent Meheux (shown above with Tangye) told the BBC.
Over the past few months, several organizations have responded with open arms. Nowzad, a charity that places rescued cats and dogs from Afghanistan in U.S. and U.K. homes, has reached out to the soldiers to facilitate the transfer. In addition, a group of dog lovers that includes coordinators and members of Labrador Retriever Rescue South England and North West Labrador Retriever Club have rallied on Facebook and Justgiving.org to fund-raise 5,000 (about $8,100) for Tangye’s flights and quarantine (where he’ll stay for six months upon arrival before being adopted into a loving home).
"We have been overwhelmed by the response from both people in the armed forces and the dog-loving public," Natalie Pomroy, creator of the "Save Tangye" Facebook group, tells PEOPLEPets.com. A coordinator for Lab Link Rescue from St. Osyth, Essex, she adds, "Tangye has captured people's hearts. So many have donated money to help the appeal [that] we are well on our way to the 5,000 target." So far, the site has raised about half that amount.
"At the moment it is a waiting game," says Pomroy, but hope remains high that this frontline canine will soon be showered with the same love that he has shown the troops. "He has ... brought a little humanity to a very difficult job."