US Marine Takes Georgian Stray Home

Lucky was a stray dog when Norris met him more than seven months ago in the country of Georgia. Norris was deployed in the Eastern European nation as a US Marine.

Dog packs roam free in the streets of Gori, an ancient riverside city in Georgia where Joseph Stalin was born. Most of the stray dogs wandering Gori are well-fed and healthy, the Marine captain said, but one dog's struggle caught his attention.

“A bone was sticking out of its foot. It couldn’t use it. It was leaving a blood trail everywhere," Norris said.

When the Marine unit left for the capital city of Tbilisi, more than an hour drive from Gori, Norris remembered the stray animal.

“That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about this dog,” Norris said. “I woke up and told my gunnery sergeant, ‘We’re going back tomorrow and getting this dog.’”

It took them about five minutes to find him again, Norris said.

“We go back to the same place, figuring the dog couldn’t get very far dragging its feet around,” Norris said. “It was injured bad and starving but didn’t want to be touched. I had a 50-50 bet it would bite me.”

Fleas and dried blood covered the dog’s fur, but Norris held tight, he said. The van the Marines had hired as a transport waited to take them and the dog to Tbilisi. Norris found a veterinarian in Tbilisi and paid $38 to heal the dog. The dog's front right leg had too much dead tissue and would be amputated a month later. Norris named the dog Lucky. 

Around the time that Norris was set to fly back to the US on a United Airlines flight, but the company had suspended pet transport, taking away an affordable option, said Norris. He found a pet courier service that would bring Lucky to Southwest Florida for $4,500 then turned to an online fundraising website ( Puppy Rescue Mission, a non-profit based in Texas, heard about Norris’ challenge and stepped in to help.

“We assist military men and women who are deployed on foreign soil, to get dogs and cats they bond with back to the US,” said Michelle Smith, executive director.

Lucky journeyed from Tbilisi, Georgia, to Istanbul to San Francisco to Atlanta to Fort Myers.

“It’s been a long process, but now he’s an American,” Norris said.


By Shawn Wayne

14 June 2018 11:54