Best friends: Smoke and Donny Eslinger became an instant sensation when this picture appeared on the cover of Army Life magazine after he rescued the dog in Afghanistan
He took care of the dog, whom he named "Smoke Pup Barbarian," until he was critically injured in a mortar attack only a month later on September 24, 2011. Eslinger suffered a penetrating chest wound, a head injury, broken ribs and a broken leg. He also lost his spleen.
Now his father has made it his job to reunite Donny with the dog in the hope it can boost his spirits in the same way it did the soldiers in Afghanistan.
Donny Sr. said he has arranged to board the dog with a veterinarian near Walter Reed so he can take him to visit his son. Donny has told his dad he can't wait to be reunited with his pup. "What a nice dog, I am so excited to see him and have Donny see him," Eslinger said. "It's going to be great."
Yet as excited as he was then, the feeling was even better when Smoke got to see Eslinger's son again. Smoke was once a pocket pooch, small enough for Donny to carry around in his backpack before the near-fatal mortar attack. Now, he's back at his master's side. "This dog Smoke will help him heal even faster. He's a strong kid and he's done remarkably well," said Donny's dad.