War veteran and military working dog reunite after years apart - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Afghanistan war veteran and military working dog reunite after years apart

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

If you have a dog, they truly become part of your family and maybe even your best friend.

Well,  imagine training with your dog for years, being sent to war and then you're hurt and the Army permanently separates you from the dog.

For the couple you're about to meet, no wasn't an answer they were prepared to accept.

"It's really a matching of personalities between the dog and the handler..so we ended up clicking and she was mine from then on," said Specialist Josh Tucker.

Tucker and this English Black Labrador named Ellen were a team on the front lines in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.

Tucker helped train Ellen to become a specialized search dog.

"Our main mission was IADs and caches. Every time we went out, we were right out in front. Anytime we went somewhere, we went searching. I'm still here, so I'm imagining we were pretty successful with the IEDs. She was very good at what she did," said Tucker.

But a roll over accident sent Specialist Tucker back to the U.S. and eventually to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with a head injury.

Specialist Tucker also suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. His wife knew they had to be reunited.

Every night he would tell me, but I miss her. I never got to say goodbye. I just want to say goodbye to her," said Sherie Tucker.
    
The Tuckers soon discovered the Army wasn't re-deploying Ellen with a new handler, so they wanted to adopt her.

"She wasn't bonding with anyone else. From what everyone in the working dog community was telling me, she was just sitting in a run and if that's the case why not be sitting in our house," said Sherie.

Enter Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema from the Tucker's home base district.  Her office worked to make the adoption possible, but it wasn't easy.

Was she surprised to got a no from the Army?

"I was really surprised," replied Sinema. "You know, when we first got the call from Specialist Tucker and his wife we were happy to help. We called we wrote letters and when we got the denial we were very surprised."

Fewer than six months later, the efforts from the Tuckers and Rep. Sinema paid off.

The Army agreed to allow the adoption to take place.

"Specialist Tucker, like many post 911 GI vets, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and the evidence is very clear that pet therapy is a very effective form of treatment and in particular for Specialist Tucker, Ellen is his best friend," said Sinema.

On March 27, the reunion between Tucker and his best friend finally happened as cell phone video captured the moment.

"It was like she was real," said Tucker. "It felt more complete."

The Tuckers will have another reunion Tuesday with Rep. Sinema, who helped make this all possible.

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