After breaking up a dogfight, a common sport in the local villages, he was befriended by an injured dog, which followed him back to the compound. Named him after the nearby village, Nowzad became a firm companion to Pen and his fellow marines in 42 Commando.
Pen founded the charity Nowzad Dogs which aimed to support serving soldiers on the front lines to rescue the companion animals they’d adopted during their arduous tour of duty. To date they’ve helped reunite over 700 soldiers with their special pets.
The charity built the first home for strays near Kabul with housing for over 100 dogs. Pen and fellow former soldier Louise Hastie returned to Kabul to work with a team of local workers and volunteers to raise money and awareness of the plight of the Afghan strays. Nowzad’s story was later published as a bestselling book, One Dog At A Time.