Sergeant's dog receives life saving surgery

June 14, 2011 3:59:27 PM PDT
Sometimes there are happy endings. Just ask Sultan, a guard dog befriended by Army Sergeant Brian Assanowicz of Bensalem while on patrol in his outpost in Afghanistan.

"When you're away from home and family to have somebody like this guy meet you at the gate, his tail wagging and want to lick you and give you a kiss, I just fell in love with him," Sgt. Assanowicz said.

Back in September, Sgt. Assanowicz made arrangements to get Sultan back to the states to live with his wife Bonnie. That cost $3,000 which was most of the couple's savings.

"When Brian said you know, can you do this for me? He never asks for anything, ever. It was the least I could do," Brian's wife Bonnie said.

But soon after, Sultan was diagnosed with what would have been a fatal birth defect.

"He has an extra vessel in his liver that is causing his dirty blood in his body to bypass the liver so it isn't being cleaned properly," veterinary surgeon Dr. Garrett Levin said.

Doctors at Northstar Vets in Robbinsville performed lifesaving surgery paid for by an organization called Vet-I-Care that raised $12,000 to pay for Sultan's medical expenses.

Now, a gentle giant at 115 pounds and not shy in a crowd, Sultan and the Sergeant visited the clinic to say thank you.

"Happy to help a soldier and meeting him makes it come together full circle," Eileen Schuck of Vet-I-Care said.

Sgt. Assanowicz will return to Afghanistan on Friday to complete the last 6 months of his tour, but Sultan will keep Bonnie company while he is gone.

"It makes me feel a little better to know that my wife has this big lug to watch over her," Sgt. Assanowicz said.

"To have Sultan with me when Brian had him, it was like that connection," Bonnie said.

And because of Brian and Bonnie and all the people who helped save Sultan, this lucky dog is no casualty of war, more like a victory for friendship and compassion.