December 5, 2018

This Marine smuggled a stray dog from Afghanistan to the United States after forming an unlikely friendship.

When Marine Craig Grossi came across a stray dog while doing reconnaissance work in Afghanistan’s Sangin District in 2010, he fully expected the homeless pooch to be hostile towards him.

“As I got closer to him, I could see he was covered in bugs, he was uncomfortable and his fur was matted,” Grossi told PEOPLE. “And as I got a little bit closer he started to wag his tail, and that really just froze me, because that is the last thing I thought he would do.”

He wasn’t like the other dogs that roamed about in packs, mostly being aggressive to any humans. So Grossi decided to befriend this unusual dog “with a big goofy head and little legs” and called it Fred.

Fred immediately showed his willingness to be friends with Grossi, wagged his tail, and proceeded to follow him wherever he went. When the Marines did reconnaissance in a village, Fred went with them and never barked or made noises.

Then the day for Grossi to leave the area arrived, and a helicopter was coming to extract him and his fellow Marines to take them to Camp Leatherneck. Grossi was torn; a part of him didn’t want to leave his faithful companion behind.

“I had a little conversation with Fred. I said ‘Look this is risky man, if you really want this, I just need you to follow me to the helicopter,’” Grossi recalled.

And that’s just what Fred did.

“I like to say he had a helicopter ride before a car ride,” Grossi said.

Grossi managed to send Fred to the United States while he was called to return to active duty. It was during that time Grossi suffered a serious head injury.

After his recovery, he returned to America and was reunited with Fred.

Grossi then went on to university, with Fred by his side, inspiring him to write a book about their time together, and just how much the pooch helped him through post-traumatic stress disorder.

It was through Fred’s positive energy that Grossi was helped to overcome the challenges of returning to a normal life.

“I’d walk in the door, and he’d practically throw my running shoes at me,” Grossi told the Washington Post. “I’d get out of my suit and tie as fast as I could, and we’d run down the hill and around the monuments and spend as much time outside as possible, and that would get me through the next day at work.

“Just how energetic and positive and happy he is is contagious,” he added. “I rescued Fred one time, but he rescues me every day.”

Watch the video below: