SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Lynn Brothersen returned to Utah last week. She spent a year serving with the 373rd M.I. Battalion in Turkey.
“For a year, you are focused on the mission and, when you come home, you know you’re back with family. It’s a totally different environment,” Brothersen said.
The family has spent the last week reconnecting. On Monday afternoon, they returned to the airport for another chance to connect by welcoming "Ally" home. Ally is a stray dog Brothersen befriended at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
“The shots, and the papers and all the paperwork that needs to be done to get her out of Turkey and back into the US, the international SPCA did it all for me,” Brothersen said.
The International SPCA runs a program called "Operation Baghdad Pups." The program reunites soldiers like Brothersen with the animals who have provided love and support during their service. According to the SPCA website, Ally is one of at least 640 reunions since 2008. Ally traveled from Turkey to Erbil, Iraq then on to New York and, finally, Utah.
“This dog kind of, I don’t know, it’s a piece of home for her and brings her comfort, I can tell,” said Karen Brothersen, another of Brothersen’s daughters.
As the family gathered round Monday afternoon, Ally rolled to her back, while five of Brothersen’s grandchildren petted Ally's belly.
“She’s familiar and she was such a good morale dog, where she would just sit and snuggle with you for hours,” Brothersen said.