Animals

Meet Barrie: The Dog Saved From Syrian Rubble By A Former British Soldier

Barrie was just a puppy when she was rescued from Syria.

A former soldier who saved a puppy from Syrian rubble has been reunited with the dog after seven months apart.

Bomb disposal expert Sean Laidlaw pulled Barrie from a bombed-out building in February 2018 while he was working for a private contractor in Syria.

Mr Laidlaw had previously spent eight years in the Army as a Royal Engineer, carrying out two tours of Afghanistan.

After leaving the military he worked as a bomb disposal expert in Syria, where his and Barrie's paths crossed.

The Asia Shepherd cross, he says, has changed his life forever.

Barrie soon became part of the team, joining them on tasks (Picture: Sean Laidlaw).

Sean was in Raqqa to check the area before civilians could move back and it was while clearing a government building that he saw Barrie.

"Near the building was a school... it was our safe area, and when we went past it, we heard what sounded like a child crying, really loud and high pitched," explained Mr Laidlaw.

The sound, which he said did not resemble a cry coming from an animal, could have been a tactic used by Islamic State fighters, so they had to ensure the building was safe before entering.

"A small cave had been formed in the collapse of the building and she [Barrie] was there. She was the only one alive."

After three days, a terrified Barrie grew to trust the former soldier and the two became inseparable.

They took her out of the collapsed building site on the last day they spent there.

As Mr Laidlaw grabbed the puppy, she "did not even make a sound":

"She just laid there, exhausted."

She soon became part of the team, joining them on tasks.

"It was always someone's job [to look after Barrie]. If something went wrong, you would grab Barrie and draft straight to the car."

Barrie also helped the team cope with their mental health, distracting them from life in Syria.

"There were weeks when we would see 10 to 15 dead bodies a day... but just to come back to the office and see Barrie, have a play around... made everything better."

Barrie also helped the team cope with their mental health, distracting them from life in Syria (Picture: Sean Laidlaw).

However, three months later, Mr Laidlaw was due to return home on leave. He decided to contact War Paws, an animal charity based in Iraq specialised in finding dogs from war-torn areas their forever homes.

After speaking with them and setting up online fundraising, Barrie's journey to England was still a long way away.

She was looked after by Mr Laidlaw's colleagues for months, and eventually, Barrie was taken out of Syria via lorry.

From Iraq, she was then transported to Jordan, where things got trickier.

"We tried twice to get her out of there, but both times got cancelled," explained Mr Laidlaw.

After seven months apart, he made the 12-hour journey from Essex to Paris to collect Barrie from a vet who was travelling back to Europe from the Middle East.

Now back together nearly a year later, the pair are again inseparable.

Their story has even been made into a book and Mr Laidlaw said that, still to this day, she saved him, not the other way around.