Wounded Marine's missing dogs come home

News-DemocratApril 26, 2013 

A local retired Marine is glad to have his dogs back.

They returned Friday morning three days after disappearing into flood waters, said James Sperry, who was a lance corporal when he fought in Iraq.

"They both showed up on my back deck, covered in mud," Sperry told a News-Democrat reporter. "They're pretty skinny. But they'll be all right."

Sperry, originally from Belleville and now living near Lebanon, lost his dogs when they jumped the fence at his house and fled Wednesday. He saw them run into deep water. He waded in after them but was unable to catch them. The last he saw of them until Friday morning was the dogs swimming away in water that came up to his chest.

One dog is an Akita and Shar-Pei mix named Sophie. She's a therapy dog who helps Sperry deal with the effects of PTSD, which he has suffered since being injured in Iraq. The other dog is a Doberman pinscher named Justice.

"They mean the world to me," Sperry said. "They provide me comfort and a sense of safety when I am along. They are the best dogs I have ever owned. God has blessed me again with another miracle."

Sperry has suffered from migraine headaches and vertigo following a traumatic brain injury when an insurgent's rocket-propelled grenade bounced off his helmet in November 2004. The grenade exploded behind him, fracturing his skull and piercing it with shards from his Kevlar helmet.

Sperry has also reported problems sleeping because of nightmares about fighting in Iraq.

Sperry now serves as president of The Fight Continues, an organization that helps wounded soldiers and Marines make the transition back to civilian life after combat.

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