PEOPLE Magazine | Watch the Emotional Moment an Air Force Sergeant Reunites with Her Canine Battle Buddy

August 9, 2017


Retirement is treating military working dog Rick right.

After faithfully dedicating six years of his life to sniffing out explosive devices and protecting our troops in South Korea, the German Shepherd is enjoying a well-deserved break, and he started his R&R time with an emotional reunion.

On Tuesday, Rick reunited with his former handler, U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Amanda Cubbage, at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona, where Cubbage is now stationed.

During their time together, Cubbage and Rick were inseparable, conducting numerous explosives sweeps and forming a lasting bond. Unfortunately, life required that the pair part, but this was just a temporary break.

After learning that Rick was retiring from active duty due to his older age and declining health, Cubbage worked with American Humane to give Rick the loving forever home he earned a thousand times over through his service. American Humane is dedicated to helping retiring service dogs reconnect with their best friends on U.S. soil, and Rick’s case was no different. American Humane, along with Hallmark Channel and Hormel Foods, helped Cubbage adopt her battle buddy so the pair could be together for good.

That forever began with Tuesday’s reunion.

“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’s these moments 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 ensure this happy ending, American Humane sent one of its top veterinarians to South Korea’s Osan Air Base to escort Rick back 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.”