Here’s a story that will bring tears of joy to your eyes.
Care2 has already brought you the heartwarming story of a dog welcoming his sailor “mom” home after seven months service in Afghanistan, and the touching account of a pit bull service dog reunited with his owner, a disabled veteran.
Now we have another wonderful story to share with you: the tale of how Marine Sergeant Ross Gundlach, a dog handler, was able to meet up again with his good buddy Casey, a yellow lab who was his constant companion in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. Gundlach had promised Casey he would find her again, and last Friday, he was able to keep his promise.
It was all thanks to one fire marshal.
While in Afghanistan, Gundlach and his bomb-sniffing dog carried out 150 missions together, and according to Gundlach, Casey never missed a single one. In fact, the Marine credits Casey for the fact that he made it back home safely. Perhaps that’s why he has a tattoo on his right forearm depicting Casey with angel wings and a halo, sitting at the foot of a Marine.
This summer, the 25-year-old, from Madison, WI, left active duty to take classes at the University of Wisconsin, but he didn’t forget about Casey; instead, he began working on adopting the four-year-old dog. He first discovered that Casey had completed her military service and was now working at detecting explosives for the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office.
When State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds received a letter from Gundlach explaining that he had a special connection with Casey and wanted to adopt her, Reynolds was so touched by the Marine’s request that he decided to arrange a surprise reunion.
Here’s what Reynolds did next. From The Associated Press:
First, he got in touch with the Iowa Elk’s Association, which agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the agency.
“We have a motto in our association that as long as there are veterans, the Elks will strive to help them,” Iowa Elks Association president Tom Maher said.
Then, Reynolds came up with a ruse to get Gundlach to Des Moines, telling Gundlach he needed to come to the state Capitol to plead his case in front of a “bureaucratic oversight committee.”
When Gundlach arrived with his parents, Reynolds told them the meeting had been delayed and invited them to join an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda. There, hundreds of law enforcement officers, military personnel and civilians were seated, keeping the secret — until they brought out Casey.
Watch here to see what happened next:
You have to love Gundlach’s comments: “It was a total surprise.” “I owe her. I want to take care of her, but I owe her. I’ll just try to give her the best life I can.”
Governor Terry Branstad officially retired Casey from active duty during Friday’s ceremony, thanking the dog for a “job well done.”
All animal lovers and pet owners can surely relate to this story and feel moved by the undeniable bonds that link Gundlach and Casey.
What a beautiful story!
Photo Credit: DM Register Youtube video