Dog from Iraq carries soldier’s legacy
Yelping, jumping, squirming and showing amazing agility despite having only three legs, Laia, a 9-month-old puppy rescued from Iraq, now runs freely outside her Brighton home.
Laia survived a war, a broken leg, the death of her owner, a risky convoy across Iraq, and an amputation and wound up in the home of Jerry and Colleen Deaven of Brighton.
She is just a mutt, but her story spans the globe.
It is the story of a guy and his dog. Maj. Steven Hutchison fell in love with the puppy, but at age 60 became the oldest Army soldier to die during this war.
It is the story of a woman, Terri Crisp, who has made 23 trips to Iraq, trying to save the pets of U.S. soldiers.
It is the story of a grieving mother, Peggy Loving of Romulus, who found a moment of solace when she met Hutchison’s beloved dog. When she left Laia, Loving was in tears because holding the puppy felt to her like holding her son.
It is the story of adoption. The Deaven family home has a massive yard, where Laia can run free, and plenty of love.
“We feel like we are taking care of her for Maj. Hutchison, for all the guys in the unit,” Colleen Deaven said.
Her husband, who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, agreed.
Stray’s global journey home
At night, when the war cooled down and the sky above Iraq filled with stars, Army Maj. Steven Hutchison slept with his arms wrapped around Laia, a stray, yellow puppy.
It was against the rules to have a dog in an Army camp, but Hutchison hated rules, especially the ones that didn’t make any sense to him.
A senior officer told Hutchison to get rid of the dog, but he didn’t listen, not at all.
Hutchison was an old, crusty vet who had served two tours in Vietnam and came out of retirement at the tender age of 59 to fight with the boys in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a complex man — smart and stubborn. He had a doctorate in psychology but loved being on the front lines.
Countless soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have adopted dogs and cats. For some, it is the one thing that helps it feel like home.