Owning a dog means having a best friend for life. These amazingly intelligent creatures teach us love and loyalty, and will never leave our side.
Matthew Kropp served his country for as long as he remembers. During the Iraq War in 2011, he was part of the military troops deployed there. In 2014, he took a job at the U.S Embassy in Baghdad related to preventing any harmful materials such as explosives to enter the building. However, doing this job, he had the best partner alongside, the German Shepherd named Tina.
Their special bond was something forged in a tough situation where lives were on the line every day.
“Without her, I wouldn’t be able to live,” said Matthew.
However, in 2017, Tina was returned to the U.S because she was too old to continue her service.
While Kropp stayed in Iraq a bit longer, he recently returned to the U.S. to spend time with his family in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. That’s when he decided that he missed Tina too much not to go looking for her.
Kropp found out about an organization called K9 Hero Haven, based out Herndon, PA, that adopts and finds families for retired military dogs. So far they’ve found forever homes for over 200 dogs since 2015.
Anne Gibbs, who runs K9 Hero Haven, was able to locate Tina and arrange for a reunion a year after Kropp’s return.
Kropp was at County Cupboard restaurant in Lewisburg, PA, eagerly waiting to see his old friend after that much time. He hoped Tina didn’t forget him.
“I’m hoping that she’s excited and that she remembers me. That’s what I’m really hoping for,” said Kropp.
And she did! When Tina was escorted into the restaurant, she immediately ran to Kropp, ready to lap up the love and attention he had been waiting over a year to give her. The reunion was exactly what Kropp had hoped for, and it was clear their bond remained tight.
Licking his face and squirming around during belly rubs, Tina seemed to be in heaven. And Kropp couldn’t stop smiling.
Now Kropp has formally adopted Tina and Gibbs couldn’t be happier that she made the effort to reunite them:
“…to be able to see them come home and spend all the rest of her life with his family, and being a dog and a family pet. It’s phenomenal.”
Kropp will have to return to Iraq soon for work, but can rest well knowing that Tina is at home with his wife and two children, waiting for him to return again.
K-9 Hero Haven remains hard at work trying to find homes for retired service dogs that come from police departments, public service agencies, and the military. Anyone interested in adopting a dog will need to go through a lengthy process to make sure they’re a good fit, since many of the dogs are elderly, have medical issues, or suffer from PTSD.
The organization is especially committed to reuniting service animals with their original handlers, though that’s not always possible. In many cases, they work to find homes where at least one adult has experience with a service animal so that these brave pups get the understanding, care, and retirement they deserve after their years of service.
And it’s clear that many of these dogs have found exactly the homes they need.
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