People | Military Dog Handler Friends Adopt Their Canine Partners After Dogs Retire at the Same Time

July 5, 2024

Best friend veteran Dalton Stone and Sgt. Isaac Weissend reunited with their canine companions together in Tyler, Texas

Military Dog Handler Friends Reunite with former canine partners
From left: Aida the German shepherd, Dalton Stone, Sgt. Isaac Weissend, and Poker the German shepherd. PHOTO: CALLYNTH PHOTOGRAPHY/AMERICAN HUMANE


Retired military working dogs Aida and Poker are spending the Fourth of July with old friends: their former handlers — and now their new owners — veteran Dalton Stone and Sgt. Isaac Weissend.

The pups were the canine partners of Stone and Sgt. Weissend, respectively, when the two men served as  K-9 handlers for the U.S. Marine Corps. Stone and Sgt. Weissend met and became close friends while serving overseas in Japan.

The handlers and the dogs worked together for more than two years, over which time the quartet formed a close bond. In 2022, the four friends parted ways, according to a release from American Humane. Stone left the Marine Corps in Feb. 2022, and Sgt. Weissend was assigned to another base in June 2022. Aida and Poker stayed at their base in Japan and were assigned to new handlers.

Since leaving Japan, Stone and Sgt. Weissend have continued their friendship. The two men live five hours apart in Texas. Sgt. Weissend served as a groomsman at Stone’s 2023 wedding and recently visited Stone and his wife in Kilgore, Texas, for their baby shower.

Dalton Stone and military working dog Aida celebrate May 13, 2021
Dalton Stone with his canine partner Aida while serving overseas in Japan.COURTESY OF DALTON STONE/AMERICAN HUMANE


After saying goodbye to the dogs in Japan, the two friends never forgot their former canine partners. So when the pals heard from a friend that Aida and Poker were set to retire this year at the same time and were looking for new owners, Stone and Sgt. Weissend sent their adoption applications in together.

Military Dog Handler Friends Reunite with former canine partners
Sgt. Isaac Weissend with his canine partner Poker while serving overseas in Japan. AMERICAN HUMANE

The two former Marine Corps K-9 handlers contacted the animal welfare organization American Humane for help with the complicated and costly process of transporting two dogs internationally.

American Humane helped the men organize Aida and Poker’s trip from Japan to Texas, which took over a week and included five different stops, handling the paperwork, red tape, and expenses. To make it to Texas, the dogs first journeyed by plane from Okinawa, Japan, to Camp Pendelton in San Diego, California, making stops in Tokyo and Los Angeles. After a few days of rest in San Diego, Aida and Poker flew to Dallas. On May 4, the dogs arrived in Dallas and took a car ride to Tyler, Texas, to reunite with their former handlers.

Stone and Sgt. Weissend reunited with Aida and Poker at the same time, allowing all four friends to get together again. While the dogs hadn’t seen their former teammates for two years, they quickly reconnected with Stone and Sgt. Weissend.

Military Dog Handler Friends Reunite with former canine partners


Both men are looking forward to helping the dogs enjoy retirement as beloved family pets. American Humane will also be part of the dogs’ lives forever. Along with covering the dogs’ travel costs, American Humane has also offered to assist with Aida and Poker’s veterinary expenses for the rest of their lives.

“We’ve reunited dozens of retired military dogs with their former handlers, but this special reunion was still a first for American Humane,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “It was an honor to help two best friends bring their other best friends home. All four of these military heroes deserve our gratitude and support after serving our country.”