ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Normally soldiers surprise family members when returning home from deployment, but one Attleboro family decided to surprise their soldier instead.
With the United States in the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, U.S. Army Captain AJ Ferraro was able to come home two months earlier than expected.
“I didn’t tell a soul, and it was quite its own military operation to keep it secret,” AJ said.
AJ planned out a surprise, but little did he know his mom had been working on one for him as well.
“I saw AJ, and I started crying of course,” AJ’s mother Carol Ferraro said.
She had been working to get a dog named Pagunda home from Afghanistan.
“He was there at the door wagging his tail and I just lost it,” AJ recalled, “It was awesome, great surprise.”
AJ fell in love with Pagunda while in Afghanistan and was actually in the process of adopting him.
The two met through an organization called “Nowzad” which rescues animals in Afghanistan, helping them find new homes often with deployed soldiers.
“They were saying the organization said that he was probably injured either in a car accident or something or maybe an IED it’s really not known,” AJ said about Pagunda losing a leg.
AJ plans to stay in the army reserves and continue serving the nation with a government job — a transition made easier with Pagunda by his side.
According to Nowzad’s website, the pandemic and now the pullout of troops from Afghanistan have caused setbacks in their efforts to place animals with loving families.
“Yes, we are facing unprecedented challenges at this time which are stretching us to the limit but we are determined that together with you; we will overcome these issues,” the website read.