By Chris Willmott 28/08 Updated: 28/08 07:47
THE DIFFICULTIES of life on the frontline in Afghanistan were made easier for Claverdon paratrooper Conrad Lewis when he 'adopted' a stray dog called Peg.
The dog lived in Conrad's army barracks, spent nine hours at a time by his side on patrol and was still by his side when he and his regiment were engaged in a lengthy gun fight - although she did fall asleep behind a medical bag as the bullets were flying past.
The 22-year-old soldier, who 'would do anything for anyone', had found himself a faithful hound who would do anything for him, including sharing his rations of tinned chicken curry.
In fact Conrad was so besotted with the devoted dog that he was putting plans in place to bring her back to the UK when he completed his tour.
Tragically, Conrad didn't make it back home - killed by a Taliban sniper in Helmand Province in February 2011 just two months before the end of his tour.
But his devastated family, dad Tony, mum Sandi and sister Siobhan, honoured Conrad's wishes to give Peg - short for Pegasus in honour of the Para's winged horse emblem - a life of comfort back home in leafy Warwickshire.
The 3,500-mile journey wasn't easy, however and involved a heartbroken Peg being tracked down after returning to a life on the streets, her being disguised as a sniffer dog to be allowed in the army dog-only barracks, time in a compound in Kabul and six months in quarantine back in the UK.
The compound where Peg was held in Kabul was run by the NOWZAD Dogs charity - a rescue centre for stray dogs set up by Royal Marine Pen Farthing who was horrified by the state of Afghanistan's many stray dogs, cats and other animals.
And now Conrad's mum and dad - and Peg - have launched a campaign to help raise money for the charity, which not only rescues stray, sick animals, but also is a holding zone for many dogs being brought home by soldiers just like Conrad wanted to bring Peg home.
They have teamed up with Umberslade Farm Park in Tanworth in Arden to highlight the charity’s work and raise funds for the new shelter.
Oliver Muntz, owner of Umberslade, and his brother Seb were boyhood friends of Conrad and have pledged to raise donations through the farm park's Facebook page.
For every 'like' the page gets they will donate 10p to NOWZAD to help the charity which is in financial difficulty.
Dad Tony said: "Conrad would do anything for anyone - and this is our way to keep on helping people in his memory.
"So many of the lads out there have relationships with the dogs like Conrad did and are desperate to bring them home - or their families are desperate to bring them home like we did if tragedies happen.
"But without NOWZAD that would be impossible and we need to make sure it gets the money it needs to keep operating."
To support the campaign log onto Facebook, search for Umberslade Farm Park and hit the 'like' button.
Visit www.nowzad.com for further details on NOWZAD.
* The Lewis family have also launched 353, a not for profit grooming and gifts brand to raise funds for armed forces charities and Peg has been the inspiration behind many of the toys and gifts they have designed.
It got its name as Pte Lewis was the 353rd member of the armed forces to be killed in Afghanistan.
Visit www.353.org.uk for further details.
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