It was 2010 when Sergeant Craig Grossi of the US Marines met a special furry friend during his second tour in Afghanistan.
Their outpost had just been attacked by the Taliban for days on end, and the Marines were out surveying the damage when they spotted a stray dog laying among the rubble.
Packs of stray dogs were not uncommon for them to see, and many were hostile towards humans, so they had strict orders not to interact with them.
But something about this dog was different. He was alone, and he wasn’t as bothered by the presence of the Marines as previous dogs they had encountered.
Grossi told PupJournal:
“He was a loner. That was one of the interesting things about him. He found a way to make it work. He resisted the urge to become a part of a pack; life would have been easier for him if he had, but he chose a different path. He chose to be kind.”
The Marines watched the estimated 6-7 month old dog as he explored the compound for scraps of food to eat. He’d even made himself a small shelter behind a nearby patch of bushes where he ate and slept. Though he was dirty and covered in bugs, he was fending for himself in the dangerous Sangrin District.
Over time, Grossi had a growing feeling that he wanted to help the dog. Though it was strictly forbidden, Grossi decided to go against policy and fed the dog a piece of jerky one day. This small act was greeted kindly with a tail wag, and solidified the bond of a budding new friendship.
From then on, Fred — as he would become known, because “he looked like a Fred” — followed Grossi everywhere that he went. This included following the Marines on missions, such as checking housing at night where known Taliban would hide.
According to Honest to Paws, “Craigs’s fellow Marines were worried Fred might bark or draw attention to them, but Fred seemed to instinctively know to keep quiet and stay hidden.”
When it came time for Grossi to head back to base, he was worried about leaving his little friend behind. They had become very attached to one another, so Grossi asked Fred to give him a sign. He told Fred that if he still followed him when the helicopter came (a loud noise that would frighten most dogs), he would take the risk of being caught disobeying orders and smuggling the dog back with him.
Sure enough, when the helicopter arrived, Fred stayed right by Grossi’s side. He had already braved through the fighting and war to protect his human, so Grossi returned the favor by hiding him in a duffel bag and taking him back to base — something that could potentially lead to jail time if he was discovered.
They were lucky enough to befriend a DHL shipping worker who agreed to help them ship Fred back to the States. However, before they were able to complete arrangements, Grossi was called back to action. Peter, the DHL worker, agreed to take care of Fred for him while he was away.
Unfortunately, Grossi suffered a brain injury during an enemy attack in the field. While he recovered in the hospital, he continued to think about Fred and anticipated being able to see him again once he was better.
The day that he returned to base, Grossi was unable to locate Peter or Fred — that is, until he found a group of people playing soccer, with Fred running right along next to them.
Grossi told PupJournal, “Fred likes to be included.” This would continue on after Fred was shipped home to Grossi’s parents in the states. Grossi was able to return home three months after that, and the duo have been inseparable ever since.
“I try to take [Fred] everywhere I go. Our favorite activities are hiking and generally being outside… Fred loves to travel. He doesn’t care where we are going as long as it is new and exciting.”
The pair did a cross-country trip in their 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser last summer, going from DC to Chattanooga, TN, to Austin, TX, then on to the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles. They camped out in national parks, made lots of friends, and Grossi told their amazing story to all they met.
It was then that he realized that he wanted the world to know Fred’s special tale.
Grossi graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, and credits this time to helping him rediscover his love of writing. He is currently working on a book about Fred to continue spreading the story of the little pup, now guessed to be around 6.5 years old, who took a chance on a human in a war-ravaged land and ended up with the friend of a lifetime.
You can continue to follow Fred the Afghan’s adventures with Grossi on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. He even has a new fur friend, Grossi’s girlfriend’s dog Ruby — who he loves and protects like a little sister.
And in case you were wondering, one of Fred’s all-time favorite things is still beef jerky!