A former Navy dog handler was reunited with his retired German Shepherd just in time to celebrate Independence Day.
The dog, named Freddy, had spent a year apart from Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Perez, after Perez was sent from his station in Italy to Norfolk, Virginia.
Freddy was already a 7-year-old veteran war dog by the time he was assigned to Perez in Italy. Freddy had served in combat, detecting explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was sent to Europe.
Now nearly 11-years-old, the dog has sustained several injuries to his hips, due to the hard work on rough terrain, and suffers some issues with his pancreas as well.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 4, 2016
Perez told ABC News 13 that a military dog serves “as truly a best friend.
“That dog works for you and you work for that dog.”
Freddy’s reunion with Perez was made possible through the efforts of the American Humane Association. Jason Haag, the American Humane Association’s National Director of Military Affairs, said that after he was retired on June 21, the dog was stranded overseas.
But Haag told Pilot Online that “most military handlers are willing to adopt their former canine partners upon retirement, and the American Humane Association often plays a big role in the reunions.”
“We are determined to unite military handlers and their canine veterans whenever possible, and so excited that we were able to bring Freddy back home to Chad (Perez) today.
“They are their best friends – a lifeline. They are just like a brother in arms, so to be able to bring them home and reunite with them is something that you can’t put a price on.”
Haag himself was never a military dog handler, though he served in the Marine Corps for 13 years. His duty included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was medically retired as a captain following combat injuries.
War dogs serve essential duties while on the job, like this incredible story of the German Shepherd who took on ISIS members during an ambush in Iraq.
German Shepherd Military Dog Puts The Run On ISIS During Ambush In Iraq https://t.co/sIUw1ez14b
— Matt Edwards (@MSEdwards30) May 10, 2016
But dogs serve the military on the home front too.
Like many veterans, after leaving the military, Haag suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was paired with a service dog, named Axel, to assist in his recovery.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I would be six feet under the ground today if not for Axel.”
Axel has assisted Haag in easing off his medication and reconnecting with his family. The dog keeps him calm in stressful situations, he said.
“Axel has my back 24/7.”
Haag said that the bond that was established in wartime between Perez and Freddy will extend to civilian life together.
“Freddy and Chad (Perez) have a really special connection and I’m sure they will both find joy in the simple things, like long walks and time spent together on the couch.”
Perez confirmed that life in the States will be good for Freddy.
“I’m pretty excited that he’s gonna be able to sleep on the couch from now on.”
[Image via wideweb/Shutterstock.com]