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These two were destined to be together! And now they are, with help from SPCA International and Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide.

By Tracey L. Kelley
January 08, 2021
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Marshmallow in camo
Credit: Courtesy of Patrick Brady

Few stories warm our hearts more than when members of the military finally reunite with their loving pets! However, U.S. Marine veteran Patrick Brady and his dog, Marshmallow, had to solve some challenges to be together again, including the pandemic, quarantine—and the wrong screws.

While deployed in the Eastern European country of Georgia in 2020, Brady discovered a lost pup roaming around his military base. In a feature with TODAY, he said that he just fell in love with this cuddly Georgian mountain dog mix right away. Tufts of white fluffy fur inspired the name Marshmallow, and the two bonded over snacks and baths—of which there were many! "I found out she just loved to get dirty whenever she possibly could," he said in his interview. 

When Brady's tour ended last fall, he had no doubt about adopting Marshmallow and having her join him at home in Long Island, N.Y. He enlisted the help of SPCA International, a global animal rescue organization, whose program Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide assists American military personnel with pet companions they form bonds with while serving overseas. Logistics for safe pet transport can be complicated, and were even more so due to the pandemic, but these nonprofits helped Brady secure Marshmallow's vaccinations and travel clearance. They were ready to go! 

However, as they prepared to fly home, airport officials told Brady that Marshmallow was "ineligible to fly because her crate didn't have a certain type of plastic screw," TODAY reported. When he was unable to find the right replacement, Brady called SPCA International and asked for help from program director Lori Kalef, who handled Marshmallow's care while Brady prepared for his flight. 

Finally, good news! "I got a phone call from Lori saying, 'She's on the plane; she's on the plane,'" he told TODAY. "As uncharacteristic as it might sound, we both broke down and started to cry a little bit because it was so stressful. After all these months of uncertainty and everything, finally just seeing her board the plane, I couldn't explain the kind of feeling that I had. It was just the happiest feeling." 

The winning solution? Marshmallow's crate was secured with zip ties. Whew! Once stateside, the duo had one more challenge to clear: Brady was required to quarantine for two weeks. So Marshmallow stayed with his parents until he came home. 

Patrick and adult-sized Marshmallow
Credit: Courtesy of Patrick Brady

Now reunited, life is good! Brady continues to serve, albeit a smaller community, through his work in various fire departments, and Marshmallow enjoys days full of belly rubs, occasional table scraps, and romps with Brady's other dog, Bear, a chow chow. Brady is overjoyed with her company and grateful for the help he received to keep her. 

"She just seems very happy all the time," he said in his TODAY interview. "SPCA International is an amazing organization with amazing people."