TV Host provides private obedience lessons for dogs Baghdad rescue dogs
Joel Silverman, host of Animal Planet’s Good Dog U, traveled to Michigan recently work with Mama and Boris, two mixed-breed dogs rescued from the front lines of Baghdad.
The pooches were rescued after Army Sgt. Peter Neesley, the soldier who cared for them, died. They now live with his family in Grosse Pointe Farms. Mama, an 18-month-old dog, and Boris, her 5-month-old, pup were treated to lessons with Silverman at Sgt. Neesley’s mother’s home.
“Joel Silverman came and worked with them for a week,” says Carey Neesley, sister of Sgt. Neesley. “We basically worked on ‘stay’ that whole time. He is hoping to come back at the end of April to work with them again. He wanted to come here and get to know the dogs and their personalities. He worked with them to see how they would react to different situations.”
The mother and pup were not allowed to live on the base in Baghdad, so Sgt. Neesley and some friends built a dog house for the pair and regularly fed them. After Sgt. Neesley’s unexpected death on Christmas Day 2007, his family worked with a number of organizations to bring the strays to safety. In February, after a 7,000-mile journey, Mama and Boris met Christine and Carey Neesley, mother and sister of Sgt. Neesley. Their home includes a pair of Golden Retrievers, 8-year-old litter mates Gussie and Noah.
“They are adjusting really well,” Carey Neesley says. “They are much healthier. Both dogs had mange pretty bad. Boris was a real mess. He has all his hair back on his legs and his chest and his tummy. He looks much better.” Both Mama and Boris were around 10 pounds underweight when they first arrived and they have been rapidly catching up, Neesley says. They have plenty of energy, she added. “They love playing and the two of them chase each other around the backyard,” Neesley enthuses about the high-energy pooches.
The dogs’ plight was broadcast around the world after Detroit news stations first covered the story, Neesley says. After the initial story aired, she was contacted by John Wagner, of Gryphon Airlines, who offered to fly to Iraq to pick up the dogs, and the Best Friends Animal Society, who offered to help transport them to Michigan. A private security team assisted with finding the dogs in Iraq and a veterinarian with the Iraqi Animal Welfare Society drove to north Baghdad to obtain vaccines for the dogs. Sen. Carl Levin’s office assisted with paperwork, Neesley said.
Her family is astounded by the outpouring of support from the community. “I think we lose faith in humanity sometimes and we forget the kind of compassion that people have,” she says. “When something happens like this it brings out the best in people and that is certainly what we saw. It was an incredible international effort.”