While serving in Afghanistan, 25-year-old airman mechanic Tom Burright struck up a friendship with a puppy that was scavenging for food in the streets.
"She was young and helpless. I had to pick her up. I fell in love and put her in the truck and took her home,” he told local CBS-DFW. Burright eventually named her Lyla.
Lyla lived with Burright and 15 other airmen in their barrack. "She lived in my room with me. Slept in my bed. I brought her food from the chow hall. She ate everything I did,” Burright said.
When Burright's time in Afghanistan was up, he learned that bringing Lyla to the U.S. would cost around $4,000. "I didn’t think it was going to happen,” he told the station.
Still, he persevered, making a video asking for assistance and sending the clip to The Puppy Rescue Mission, an organization dedicated to reuniting service members with their overseas canine companions.
In just a few hours, Puppy Rescue had raised enough money to bring Lyla over. Michelle Smith, who works for the organization, told CBS-DFW, "It’s such an inspiration to see some of these guys take these animals under their wing and love on them and care enough not to want to leave them behind to die."
It was several months before Burright saw Lyla again, but the connection was still there when they met at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport—as can be seen by Lyla's enthusiastic licking in the above video.