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Long Island Organization Helps Reunite Soldier With Dog She Met While Stationed Overseas

NESCONSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A soldier was reunited Wednesday with a dog she first fell in love with while overseas.

As CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported, a Long Island organization made it happen.

It was the first time Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Erin Guthrie officially met the dog she had kept an eye on for months while deployed in Kosovo.

"I was nervous because it was a stray dog approaching me, but I could just tell by the way that he was coming toward me [and] his mannerism he wanted a friend. He didn't have a pack. He didn't have anybody he was with," Guthrie told DeAngelis. "I was honored that he would come up to me, and I just felt an instant connection with him."

The 28-year-old was on a peacekeeping mission for eight months, but seeing the dog brought her peace being away from home.

"Having him nearby really brought brightness to a pretty hard situation," she said.

When she left a few weeks ago, she kept think about the dog, which she named Meeka.

"I actually started looking for a dog when I was in quarantine on my way home. I looked for a few days, and I was like, I just wanted that dog," she said.

Guthrie came across Long Island-based Paws of War, which through its War Torn Pups program raised more than $6,000 to get Meeka safely to the United States and reunited with its owner.

"There is a lot of obstacles. There's a lot of paperwork. There's a quarantine process that goes into this. But we feel it's all worth it, and with all the bad going on in this world, this is something we can give back to do good," said Paws of War Co-Founder Robert Misseri.

The dog wagged its tail, finding the comfort of a friend from thousands of miles away in her arms -- which is home.

"I was nervous that he wouldn't recognize me, but the fact that he pulls into me just the same way and that he recognizes me, he knows me, and that's an amazing feeling," Guthrie said.

The dog's name, Meeka, is short for Mikeshia, which means friendship or brotherhood in Albanian, which is the reason why Guthrie said she joined the Army.

Since 2013, more than 100 animals have been brought back by Paws of War.

Guthrie said there are so many stray dogs in Kosovo that get hit by cars or attacked by wild animals, so knowing Meeka is here safe and happy fills her with joy.

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