Army veteran Sean Murphy was on patrol in Afghanistan when one of his fellow soldiers came across two tiny puppies huddled together in a hole.
“He scooped [them] up and put them in the back of our interpreter’s pick-up truck,” Murphy told The Dodo. “They were only weeks old, not much bigger than a 12-ounce water bottle.”
The group took the puppies, later named Hutch and Bear, back to their base and got them settled in. They became part of the group almost instantly, but Murphy made his feelings on the matter clear from the very beginning.
“At first, I purposely avoided the dogs for fear I would get attached to them,” Murphy said. “I even told one of the sergeants to keep them away from me.”
After the soldier who found the puppies went back home, though, the puppies turned to Murphy, and he knew he had lost the battle. He was officially attached — especially to Hutch.
“The next thing I knew, Hutch was sleeping on my bunk,” Murphy said. “One day, my sergeant major, Don Sanders, said to me, ‘You know, sir, Hutch looks at you differently than everyone else.’ If I had not made up my mind by then, that’s when I did.”
Hutch was a tiny goofball with infinite energy, and he and Murphy quickly became inseparable. As his tour neared its end, Murphy knew there was no way he could leave Hutch behind, and he began the long process of getting both Hutch and Bear sent home to the U.S.
“We worked with a charity in Kabul called the Afghan Stray Animal League, aka ‘Tigger House,’” Murphy said. “We had to wait for a mission that took us to Kabul to bring the dogs along in an Afghan Army truck used by our interpreters in March 2009. There, we transferred them to the charity, which took them to Islamabad (I think). From there, they were shipped in crates FedEx to JFK [Airport], where Craig picked them up.”
Bear was adopted by the soldier who found the pups in the first place, and Hutch stayed with him until Murphy’s tour ended that July. Murphy was nervous about how Hutch would adapt to his new life in NYC, but with his best friend by his side, the transition was pretty seamless.
“He loved all the people and the smells and all the things to pee on,” Murphy said. “He made lots of friends everywhere we went.”
Today, Hutch is 15 and a true golden oldie. He’s been struggling with health problems as of late, but Murphy hasn’t let that slow them down. He bought his best friend a stroller that he calls the Hutchmobile so they can still explore the city together.
Murphy and Hutch became best friends across the world and somehow ended up back together again against all the odds. However much time Hutch has left, the pair are just grateful to be spending it together.
“Fifteen years later, it is hard to believe that story even for me,” Murphy said. “I have been so blessed to have him by my side all these years. I’m not sure who rescued who.”