A golden retriever puppy playing in Ukraine as bombs rained down around him has "miraculously" made it to his new home.
Dog lover Jennifer Weems had already forked out for gorgeous Timon when news broke of Vladimir Putin ordering Russian troops to invade Ukraine in his 'special military operation'.
As tanks rolled into cities and airstrikes were fired at buildings, Jennifer feared she would never be able to welcome Timon into her house of golden retrievers in Tennessee, US.
She even felt "immense guilt" asking for a refund but Timon's breeder Irina was determined not to give up on getting the pooch where he belonged — even with a war going on.
Jennifer told the Daily Star: "The whirlwind of emotions I felt when I caught news of the war in Ukraine was tremendous. I couldn’t believe it.
"At first, I completely panicked. I reached out to the breeder, Irina, asked if she was ok, and explained that I thought it would be best to get a refund due to the circumstances."
Jennifer who had transferred the money for Timon on February 7 was expecting him to be flown to America on February 21 but an issue arose pushing back his transit.
Then on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine and all flights out of the country were cancelled.
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Jennifer admitted: "I had little to no hope that I would ever see Timon. I’m a practical person and what I saw on the news was not reassuring. As days went by, the bombings got worse and people evacuating were getting killed.
"Airports were closed, so the only way to get him out would be to travel across the country to get to the Poland border. It just didn’t make sense that he would ever make it out.
"I wondered who in the world would want to risk their life to get a dog out. I also felt that Russia was brutal and would take control very quickly, so I assumed they would stop allowing anyone to leave, especially dogs."
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For Timon's breeder however, completing the sale was likely to be her last guaranteed source of income for a while with entire towns turning into battlegrounds.
Unlike other breeders in Ukraine, Irina did not flee and instead let Timon play with his pals as "bombs were heard all around his city" until she was able to secure a safe route for him to get to Poland.
"At this point, it turned into a rescue mission in my mind," Jennifer said. "I was terrified they would get bombed and I’d never see him."
On March 21, dog transporter Viktor promised he could get Timon to the US within the next week and set off three days later.
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Jennifer said: "This terrified me. I was scared of the danger he faced while traveling, but was more terrified for him to stay. It was only a matter of time before they would run out of food or get attacked.
"He finally made it out of Ukraine to the Poland border. I cried. It was nothing short of a miracle."
From Poland, Timon had to be driven through Germany to France where he boarded a flight from Paris and landed in the US on March 31.
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Jennifer added: "Timon had a very difficult time adjusting for the first 2 days. He acted shell shocked, if you could imagine. He did not handle the first thunderstorm very well. Miraculously, since then, he has made a complete turnaround.
"He’s finally settling in. It took a while, but that’s understandable. He’s fetching, sleeping, eating, and being just plain cute. He’s got my heart!
"I believe he is a message of hope. I plan on getting him certified as a therapy dog. He has a very bright and happy future ahead of him."
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