Private Conrad Lewis was a member of the 4th Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment. His duty brought him to Afghanistan where, amidst the war and turmoil, he found a companion in a dog named Pegasus (Peg). Despite the dangers of war, they bravely served together.
Private Lewis was killed by the Taliban while on foot patrol on February 9th, 2011 by a Taliban sniper. As his family grieved Conrad’s death, they thought about his dog, Peg, and how he would have felt about her being left behind.
The story of Conrad, his family, and their dog Peg is a beautiful reminder of the value of canine companions.
Conrad’s Bond With Peg
Peg was named after the winged horse Pegasus (the symbol of airborne forces). She helped Conrad lighten up and be happy. “Tony and Sandi, Conrad’s parents, described how their son wrote to them about teaching Peg tricks and working alongside her.”
In Afghanistan, Conrad and Peg formed a special relationship. He made a small box bed for her so she could sleep in his room.
This war dog, Peg, was more than just another soldier’s companion. She was there in the thick of things. She never flinch when she heard gunfire. According to Tony, she was his best friend.
“He also said that she went out on every patrol with him, and he said ‘she’s fearless.’”
One Christmas, Conrad told his parents he wanted to bring home his best friend. Peg was that friend. Sadly, Conrad passed away in 2011. His family decided they had to find Peg and give her the love their son would have after discharge.
“She was working hard for them out there and I think it would have broken his heart to leave her behind,” Tony said.
Bringing Peg Home
While many soldiers form bonds with animals they see in war zones, it is a huge challenge to take them home. Sandi said in an interview that most soldiers who want to bring their animals home cannot do so.
“We knew we wanted to bring the dog back, and we had no idea, where do you start getting a dog back from Afghanistan in a war zone.”
Conrad’s family was helped by Nowzad, an Afghanistan-based charity organization that helps soldiers get back together with their buddies. They usually ask for assistance from the soldier in the apprehension of the dog, but once Nowzad learned of Conrad’s passing, they committed to making Peg’s rescue happen.
Sgt Pen Farthing, a veteran, who founded the organization in 2007, is the founder of Nowzad. Prior to the Taliban regaining power in August 2021, Nowzad returned over 1700 soldiers with their dogs and cats that they had befriended on the front lines of Afghanistan.
“At Nowzad, we were more than happy to be able to assist with Peg’s rescue and although Conrad, never got to return home to his loving family, his dog did. We always hoped that they got great comfort from that,” a FB post from the organization reads.
In the end, the Lewises received an email with a photo of Peg asking, “Is this her, and do you still want her?” Peg made it to her new home in the UK within three months, where she had a loving family awaiting her.
The Life Conrad Would Have Wanted For Peg
Thanks to Conrad’s family, Peg now lives the life her friend Conrad planned to give her. They have found comfort in her presence and know they can fulfill their son/brother’s wishes.
“We may not be able to look after Conrad anymore, but we can definitely look after his dog for him. And just having her sit next to you, stroking her head and ears and everything, is a form of therapy,” Sandi said in an interview.
“Peg is now an important part of the family,” said Conrad’s sister, Siobhan. She’s a very talkative dog, possibly learned during her time on the streets.
“She’s probably the loudest one of the family now, she’s taken over Conrad’s reign really.”
The “Inspirational Animal of the Year”
A family had a difficult time after losing a son. They adopted a dog as a companion. The dog helped them heal as they coped with their loss. After ten years, the dog won an award for her heroism in the family’s life. It was named “Inspirational Animal of the Year” by the Daily Mirror‘s People’s Pet Awards.
The legacy of Conrad extends beyond Peg and her happiness. To commemorate their love, the Lewis family established Charity 353 after his death. Named for the number of lives lost in Afghanistan, the organization helps military families who are in need.
The Lewises make regular donations to Nowzad. Sadly, reunions like this one have stopped since the Taliban takeover, but their work is still important and will hopefully resume soon.