VALATIE, N.Y. - A local man, who served the United States overseas, found a trusted friend in the most unexpected place.
The Christmas story is about a small white puppy 6,000 miles away from New York and Special Forces Soldier, Aaron Eleby, from Valatie. While in a war-torn nation, the puppy and soldier found one another, and at the same time, they saved one another.
"We were at a place and those people over there didn't really deserve to have any dogs in the first place, among other things," Eleby said. "I saw him after seeing the other dogs, and just how they treat their other dogs over there, it's atrocious. They are guard dogs. They don't eat much."
However, it was love at first sight for now 7-month-old Yakkul and Eleby.
"He was literally looking up, like, 'what are you going to do man?' ya know, like what are you going to do next? It's your call so," he continued.
Eleby said he didn't ask anyone. He just knew he had to take the puppy with him.
The cost to bring a dog home, though, is over $4,000, but thanks to family, friends and Steve Caporizzo's Pet Connection, it was quick.
"We were actually gone for two weeks straight on a mission, and I came back and the money was raised," Eleby said.
After the money was raised, it was a two and a half hour drive to the rescue group, Nozrad.
"He actually had to drive with a military escort because you drive around out there by yourself with a dog they are going to be like "who? Why are you doing this?" he said.
The 6,000 mile trip was made from Afghanistan to JFK Airport recently.
"When I walked in and saw him, it was awesome," said Eleby. I'm not gonna say a tear came to my eye, but it was hiding back there."
Yakkul has recently graduated from puppy school. While Eleby is overseas, the pup will live with Grandma and Grandpa.
If you would like to help other soldiers and their rescued pets, visit www.nowzad.com which is a British animal shelter in Afghanistan trying to save stray dogs and cats.