(Photo: Brandon Harker)
A soldier's dog has been given away while he was serving in Afghanistan, according to reports, leaving the soldier desperately pleading for whoever has him to return him.
1st Lt. Brandon Harker was deployed for a nine month stint in Afghanistan and left his purebred yellow Labrador retriever, Oakley, with a friend.
However, when he returned he found out that the friend he had left the dog with had gotten rid of him.
Making a public plea on Friday night, Harker said, "I'd just like to get him back, safe and sound. That's about it."
Harker has had Oakley since Memorial Day weekend in 2011, which was about a year after he first joined the army, while he was a Fort Benning in western Georgia.
Over the past few years, Oakley and Harker have been inseparable while he has been in the United States. However, when he is deployed overseas then he is forced to leave the dog with friends until he is back.
The same arrangement was made last year when Harker was sent off to Afghanistan; he left Oakley with someone he described as a "good friend."
While he was away he kept in communication with his friend as much as he could, and the friend never let on anything was amiss, saying that Oakley was doing well.
Harker said, "Every time, while I was gone, I asked about him."
He described that each time his friend would insist that Oakley was "doing good (and) acting like his regular self."
But tellingly he added, "I'd ask for a picture every now and then. But I never got any pictures sent to me."
The truth was only revealed to Harker when he was flying back to Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington when his friend came clean and told him he had gotten rid of the dog.
Now since being back Harker is on a mission to find his lost "best friend."
He has posted notices on Craigslist.
He has described Oakley as being "good with kids and other dogs," with darker yellow spots on his face and going down his sides and legs.
Oakley is officially registered to Harker and has a microchip identifying device, and is about 2 years, 4 months old.
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