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Jim is watching the football game on a lazy Sunday afternoon with three of his buddies when a phone call interrupts a big play. Jim’s dog lays on the floor watching him. While most of Jim’s attention is focused on the TV, he answers the phone. As the conversation becomes more serious, more of Jim’s attention is focused on the call than the TV. Finally Jim walks across the room and turns the TV off. His buddies throw a fit at him, “Hey! Montana was about to touchdown! What are you doing?” Jim finishes the phone call as the serious look on his face quiets his friends. He hangs up the phone and tells his buddies that they are deploying to Saudi Arabia.

In his bedroom, Jim packs a few things into his duffel bag as he talks to his parents on the phone, when out of the corner of his eye he sees (name of dog) his dog. The dog is so sweet and seems to know that Jim is going away, and this really plays on Jim’s heartstrings. As Jim goes from the bedroom to the bathroom and back the dog follows him. After the phone call, he tries to reason with the pooch, telling him that he’s got to go away for a while and that the dog has got to stay behind. But the more Jim tries to reason with him, the more charming the dog becomes.

Jim is in a quandary about where to leave the dog. He drives with the dog across town. They arrive at the home of a friend who has a huge, angry looking dog, who greets them at the door. As his friend apologizes, Jim turns around and takes his dog back to the jeep. Then, he calls someone else on his cell phone and they drive to another friend’s house. They get out of the jeep and everything seems ok as Jim talks to his friends in their living room. Then, out of the blue comes a menacing looking toddler who immediately chases the dog around the house. The dog practically begs Jim not to leave him. Cut to: Jim and the dog in the jeep again. Door after door, one thing after another goes wrong. A woman with obviously severe allergies is shaking her head apologetically as they walk away toward the jeep. At one door Jim and the dog stand ringing the bell, looking through the windows, it appears no one is home. In yet another neighborhood, a cat chases the dog down the street as Jim chases both of them, and then the dog chases the cat back. Then both dog and cat chase Jim down the street. Finally, back in the jeep he relents, “Ok, but if we end up in the brig, you’re gonna have to dig us out.” The dog jumps into Jim’s lap and kisses Jim’s face with his wet tongue.

They drive unto the military base. All over the base, soldiers are running around, getting ready to deploy, and making what the military calls “buddy deals”. This is basically where soldiers trade favors to make it easier to take certain things with them when they deploy. Jim is busy looking for his friend Willy. when he arrives at the Military Police building, he takes his dog inside to talk to his good friend Willy. He tells Willy that he has nowhere to leave the dog and that he really needs his help to smuggle the dog overseas. (Willy is in the Military Police in charge of military working dogs. The door to his office says “Military Working Dogs”.) Willy is insistent that if he does this for Jim he could lose his job. But Jim convinces Willy to help in exchange for hiding a box of Willy’s stuff in a tank. (Not sure what’s in the box yet, but it will enhance or support the story later on) Willy kennels Jim’s dog with the military dogs.

Jim reports for duty, and the platoon gets their orders, they’re going to the Persian Gulf to be a part of Operation: Desert Storm.

Jim takes Willy’s box to a huge warehouse type building where they store the tanks. He locates the tank marked for deployment that has his platoon number on it and Jim climbs on top and opens the door. A security guard is coming his way on his normal route. Jim puts the box inside the tank just in time for the guard to walk up and question him about what he’s doing. He claims official orders from his “CO”, “just electronics!” and the guard nods and walks away.

Meanwhile, Willy takes Jim’s dog and the other six “working dogs” across the base to report in for deployment. Once in the report room, the dogs are being checked over by an inspector. The inspector notices that there are seven dogs, but only six listed on the invoice. Willy claims it must be a typo and “we’ve got work to do and a war to win!” The inspector crosses out six and writes in seven dogs, initials it and hands Willy a receipt for seven dogs. Willy and the dogs are off to their next stop-immunizations.

In the vet’s clinic the dogs are all lined up in a row, waiting to get their shots. Jim and Willy’s platoon is lined up in exactly the same way in another room across base, waiting to get their shots. A huge needle is raised in front of the first soldier and he faints. In the same way, a huge needle is raised in the air in front of the first dog’s face and he cowers down and puts his paw over his eyes. As each dog gets a whole battery of shots we see “ugh!” on their faces. In the same way, as each soldier (including Jim and Willy) get their shots we see a very similar expression on each face.

Later the dogs are loaded onto the plane, and the men are loaded into the tank and the tank is simply driven up into the airplane. And they’re off to the Persian Gulf!

When their plane lands, Saudi Arabia is not anything like any of them could have anticipated. They land in the DARK of early morning. There are NO LIGHTS. No runway lights, no truck lights, no city glowing in the distance,absolutely nothing. High above, the stars are brighter than they’d ever seen them before. It’s absolute blackness. Any light in the area is from their own headlights. When the tanks are rolled off the plane, they are given instructions on where to park. The only saving grace is the night vision equipment that helps them to see enough to maneuver. But once they get out of the tank, the extreme darkness lets them walk right by ranking officers with the dog and no one even notices!

Jim and Willy are assigned to share a tent and the next morning report for duty. Before bed, Willy smuggles the dog into their tent. The next day things are pretty laid back and not at all what Jim expected. (The ground war hasn’t started yet.)

There is a group of soldiers golfing. Although not quite the way we do in America. They’ve taken a piece of artificial turf with them in order to tee off. Unfortunately, the entire course is one big sand trap and Jim and Willy have a good laugh watching the officers running across the sand as the wind blows their turf away! Still, the seriousness of their mission rings true with the first Scud warning alarm.

Jim and Willy are startled by an awful sound coming from the front of the tent city. Soldiers drop whatever they were doing and run for the bomb shelters. Jim and Willy are clued in by a passing officer. Jim runs back to his tent, grabs the dog and his gas mask, and runs off toward the kennel, which is inside a bomb shelter. After kenneling the dog with the others, Jim has a talk with his slightly grumpy old sergeant about how scared he is. The sergeant tells him, “Boy I have eaten fat meat that worried me more than this.” Somehow, that comforts Jim, but he wonders if he’s really made a bad decision bringing his dog along.

The troops have to sit in on a general information meeting which includes information on the the culture in the Middle East. A big issue that the men are informed about is the presence of wild, rabid dogs. In the Middle East, dogs are not kept as pets and they are considered dangerous. The men are given a “shoot on sight” order.

The next day there’s not much to do, and everyone is doing what they can to relax before the real work (the ground war) begins. A few of the guys are involved in a cooking contest using MRE’s. Some of the others are sharing goodies from home received in the mail. Bob Parsons jumps out of the back of a jeep and breaks his ankle. Throughout the movie his story continues to get more and more extreme. Until finally at the end of the script he tells someone how he broke his ankle by fending off a massive Iraqi terrorist attack. Jim and Willy and a few of the guys from their platoon spend the afternoon playing cards. (With the exception of Jeff, the guys are the same ones who watched the football game in scene one.) During the game Jeff has a sneezing fit. Confused by the fact that his only allergy is to dogs, he sets out to alert the troops that there must be a wild dog in the vicinity. Before he can leave the tent Jim and Willy are forced to come clean about Jim’s dog, who has been hiding in the tent throughout the game. They bring the dog out and even though Jeff wants to report them, (the others are a little more forgiving) the dog charms him. *(find a way for dog to charm Jeff) He takes his allergy medicine and decides to help them hide the dog. They call it, Operation:Desert Dog.

We see the soldiers over the next few days taking a real interest in the dog. Smuggling him food, sneaking off to play with him, etc. Phil, one of Jim’s friends from the football game(in scene one) and the poker games, approaches him about the dog. At first, Jim is concerned that Phil will let his secret out. Phil tells Jim that he’s got to be careful. Phil didn’t want to confront Jim in front of the others, but the whole dog thing really bothers him. Phil is concerned that Jim is going to get into a lot of trouble and that he’ll bring everyone else involved with him. Not only that, a dog could be distracting to the unit, and therefore potentially dangerous. After all, this is war, not some back yard picnic. Jim tries to reassure him, but he feels a sense of guilt and responsibility about bringing the dog. But the fact is that the dog is there, and now they should make the best of the situation. And even though Phil is still edgy, he agrees to keep Jim’s secret. Phil tells Jim, “what are friends for if not to walk head first with you into trouble?”

The next day the soldiers are back playing poker in Jim’s tent and each soldier takes a turn teaching the dog tricks. “But hey watch this...” (The soldiers try to one-up one another with what they can teach the dog.) They teach the dog to drag a duffel bag across the tent as they joke around about how great it is to have a bellman to carry their bags. They hide things in the sand and teach the dog to sniff it out and dig it up. Some of the guys teach the dog to create a pile of small items up so that they won’t fall-they teach the dog a kind of life sized extended version of Jenga. (where you create a tower sturdy enough that even when parts of it are removed, it stands.) They teach him to open the door, for which Jim scolds them. Jim ties a bandana that looks like an American flag, around the dog’s neck. (I am still consulting with Barbara O’Brien, dog trainer, in terms of the kinds of things dogs can do and how to create the ‘Karate kid’ parallel. All these tricks will be used later in the rescue.)

Then, the ground war begins. Jim is a helicopter pilot and he gets called to fly some missions. The dog faithfully waits and looks a bit worried but is there with a warm welcome when they return.

One night, Jim takes the dog on the long walk to the latrine with him. At a remote part of the camp, Jim lets the dog down to walk. After a few minutes of walking and a little playing the dog comes across something funky in the sand. Jim thinks the dog is playing around like they did in the barracks and tells the dog to dig it up. The dog refuses. Jim tells him again, and the dog gets in front of Jim, barking, not allowing him to get any closer to the spot in the sand. Jim takes a dog treat out of his pocket, let’s the dog sniff it, saying, “go get it boy!” Instead of chasing the treat, the dog runs behind Jim, pulling him back from the place in the sand by his pant leg. After a few seconds, Jim throws the treat over to that spot on the sand and the land mine that is there blows up! Jim and the dog are thrown clear. It’s clear that this is one talented “military work dog”! (Or so the officers think.)

One day, after saying good bye to the dog, Jim heads out on a mission. As usual the dog waits for Jim at the landing area, but Jim doesn’t show up. After it’s clear that Jim is late, the news comes that Jim’s plane has been shot down. Immediately, Willy volunteers his team of military dogs for the rescue mission. The dog stows away with the other military dogs on the rescue helicopter and is undetected.

The news has reached CNN and the other news services. Reporters swarm the base in Saudi Arabia. Several news services report that there is a downed helicopter, and that the chopper is from Jim’s unit. His parents and friends (the ones he tried to leave his dog with) watch from home, nervous and anxious, talking about the fact that this is Jim’s unit and he flies that kind of chopper. A little girl ties a yellow ribbon around the tree in her front yard.

When they finally land in the area that they suspect Jim to have crashed, the dog gets out of the helicopter, still undetected. Willy and the rescue crew take the military dogs out to look around while Jim’s dog takes off in a different direction. After a bit of searching, Jim’s dog finds him, unconscious and wounded behind a huge sand dune. Meanwhile the Willy loads up the military dogs and the helicopter takes off. Jim’s dog barks but the noise from the helicopter makes it impossible to hear him. Then Jim’s dog sees Jim’s global positioning device sticking out of the sand. He digs it up and looks around waiting for a response. But nothing happens. The dog barks at the device, and still nothing happens. After a few seconds he bites the global positioning locator, activating it. A light comes on, then he barks into it again.

Back at the base, Jim’s digital signal is lit up. At first no one notices. The signal blinks again. Still, a distracted crew doesn’t see it. Then the soldier hears a dog barking. He can’t figure out where it could be coming from, until he sees that Jim’s digital signal is blinking. The soldier figures out that a dog is barking into the device, and they all cheer.

Before too long, the helicopter circles back to where Jim and the dog are behind the dune. They see Jim laying in the sand unconscious and the dog barking wildly trying to get their attention.

As the helicopter gets closer, one of the soldiers mistakes Jim’s dog for a wild, probably rabid dog (from the warning earlier) and he aims his gun at the dog, prepared to shoot him (thinking that Jim is in danger from this rabid dog). As the soldier aims his gun, Willy looks on behind him. Just before the soldier shoots, the dog turns around in a circle, showing the American flag bandana around his neck. Just in the nick of time, Willy sees the bandana and as the gun goes off, Willy pushes it into the air. The bullet flies into the sky, missing the dog altogether. The gunman is furious at Willy for doing such a dangerous thing. Willy explains that this is no rabid dog, but that he could tell by the bandana that this is Jim’s dog. Willy is bombarded with questions about how Jim’s dog got there, etc. Willy reminds them that they still have a soldier to rescue. They land, pick up Jim and the dog and fly off to safety. Willy is still a little puzzled at how the dog got to be with Jim in the desert, but everyone is overjoyed that Jim is alive as they rush him to the military hospital. Jim’s dog stays by his side every step of the way.

The dog is a hero! But because of this-the commanding officer gets wind that the dog is not really a military dog, and that Jim smuggled his dog to Saudi Arabia.

Since Jim has been wounded, he and his dog are headed home. Once in the states, they have to face the disciplinary board for smuggling a dog into the Gulf War.

(Jim is now nearly healed from his wounds)Jim and Willy and the rest of his platoon (now home) stand before the disciplinary board, hoping that they don’t have to go to prison. The board surprises them instead with a new mission. They must train this obviously gifted dog for duty which includes assisting troops in finding and dismantling land mines left behind after war.
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