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They got him: Lucky arrives home from Afghanistan

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Dogs experience unspeakable abuses in Afghanistan.

But Lucky here won’t be subjected to any of it.

He had the good fortune of running into a big-hearted American soldier, U.S. Army Specialist Holden Schoenig, earlier this year on the streets of Kabul.

It was puppy love between the soldier and Lucky, as well as the pup’s four siblings and their mom, Scarlet. Not long after the dogs “adopted” Schoenig, a 2011 Bayport-Blue Point graduate, his family and a rescue organization began fighting to get the dogs safely to the United States.

Their global fundraising efforts are paying off.

Schoenig’s family, now living in Bellport, got word on Oct. 21 that Lucky, Scarlet and another pup in the litter of five would be shipped out of war-torn Afghanistan and to the U.S. — along with two other rescue dogs.

After being put on flights to Dubai, then Amsterdam, then Washington, D.C., the Schoenigs — Kurt, Melanie and Holden’s brother Heath among them — picked up Lucky by car in an IKEA parking lot in Elizabeth, N.J., Friday.

He was finally coaxed into his new home in Bellport later that afternoon. The other two rescued dogs found homes in in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Prior coverage: A soldier’s desperate plea for help rescuing puppies

Even though Holden will remain in Afghanistan until February, and is without the puppies that helped in his recovery from a near-fatal MRSA infection, he said over text message that he couldn’t be happier.

“In America, Lucky will have everything he could ever want and need,” he wrote.

The fundraising and logistical efforts were led by a nonprofit called the Puppy Rescue Mission, with help from the Schoenigs and a boy from Atlanta that ran their own online fundraisers.

It can cost up to $6,000 just to ship one dog out of Afghanistan.

Lucky’s three siblings are still there. The pup Sophia needs another $2,000 to be rescued, Bear needs $2,200, and Copper is fully funded. They’ll all be waiting for enough pups to join them on the next trip to the U.S. so that the long journey can be more cost effective.

Click here to learn more about the puppies, and to donate.

Before the dog’s arrival to Long Island, Schoenig told his mom, Melanie, and dad, Kurt, he was glad Lucky would get to smell grass.

The curious puppy did more than smell.

“By Saturday afternoon he started finally realizing what the grass was, and then started rolling around in it,” Melanie Schoenig said. “And he loves the ducks. He’s fascinated by the ducks.”

In the meantime, as he awaits his pal’s return from Afghanistan, Lucky is getting busy being a puppy.

And that means getting into everything.

“He just took my shoe out from underneath the table!” Melanie Schoenig said from her dining room Monday.

“I didn’t even see you doing that,” she told the dog.

“Earlier I saw him with my slipper; he dropped it and ran away,” Kurt Schoenig said with a smile.

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Photo: Melanie and Kurt Schoenig with Lucky at their Bellport home Monday. (Michael White)

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About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com