After dedicating 6 years of his life sniffing out explosive devices and protecting American troops in South Korea, 7-year-old German Shepherd, Rick, is enjoying a well-deserved break in retirement.
Retirement comes with some rest and relaxation time as well as an emotional reunion that will make anyone who has ever loved a dog tear up.
During their service together, U.S. Air Force Staff Sergenant Amanda Cubbage and Rick were inseparable, while they carried out more than 30 explosive sweeps which caused them to form a lasting bond. Together they patrolled for bombs, car bombs, performed security sweeps throughout the installation, as well as searched vehicles of important dignitaries, swept postal facilities and did sweeps along travel routes during bomb threats.
Unfortunately, after their tour together, they were separated, but it turns out it was only a temporary break.
“Rick is my partner, friend, brother, and son,” said Sgt. Cubbage in a statement. “I needed him more than anyone that isn’t a K9 handler would ever be able to understand. He was there for my happiest days in Korea and the saddest days that I ever had there.”
It is estimated that each military dog saves between 150-200 military service members lives, so their job doesn't go unnoticed.
So how do you honor a friend who has spent his life saving American troops overseas?
Now that Rick was getting older and his health was beginning to decline, it was time for him to retire from active duty. After Cubbage learned about her canine companion's need for a forever home, she worked with American Humane to give him just that.
American Humane is dedicated to help dogs that have committed their lives to serving their country find a comfortable retirement, often with their best friend who they served with.
And that story was no different for Cubbage and Rick.
With the help of American Humane, along with Hallmark Channel and Hormel Foods, Cubbage adopted her battle buddy and now they will never have to be separated again.
Cubbage is now stationed at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona, and hers and Rick's days together started with an emotion reunion that didn't leave a dry eye in the house.
Watch the video here:
And it's moments like this that American Humane works so hard for.
“These heroes have served their country with valor, and saved the lives of our servicemen and women while risking their own,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “It is essential that now we step up and do the right thing for these warriors so they can benefit from the remarkable bond that safeguards and connects them, not only in war, but in peace.”
To get Rick to his forever home, American Humane sent one of its top veterinarians to South Korea's Osan Air Base to escort Rick back home to America.
“I couldn’t have been any happier than the day I got the email that I could bring him home forever,” Cubbage added. “I can’t wait to pick up where we left off. He was my buddy and I missed him each and every day. There is just something about having your partner finally home with you that can’t be explained. He deserves the life of ease and luxury that I will give him.”