Texas resident Jason Livingston traveled to Selinsgrove Wednesday to be reunited with Blecky, an explosives detector dog he worked with several years ago in Baghdad, Iraq.
"It took him a little while to recognize me," said Livingston who has adopted Blecky from K9 Hero Haven in Herndon where the 8-year-old Dutch shepherd was sent last month when he was retired.
Livingston was a Department of Army civilian police officer providing security on and around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in August 2014 when Blecky was assigned to him.
They worked together until June 2016 when Livingston returned to the U.S. and Blecky continued his work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I kept track of him until September 2018 when my friend left the company," Livingston said.
Then last month another friend tagged Livingston on a Facebook post from K9 Hero Haven, a nonprofit organization that finds homes for retired working dogs.
It was October 20 and K9 Hero Haven owner Anne Gibbs posted Blecky's photo and information and Livingston promptly responded.
"I said I was going to work to get him," he said. "We worked in a kind of dangerous environment and he became part of my family. I want to give him the opportunity to have the retirement he deserves."
Livingston filled out the required application papers and immediately made plans to bring Blecky home near Houston where he lives with his family, including many other dogs and horses, on a 10-acre property.
"It's beautiful to see after they've served together that they can enjoy retirement together," said Gibbs, who with the help of many volunteers has placed 230 dogs in homes and reunited about seven handlers and canines since August 2015.
There are about 50 dogs waiting for adoption. For more information about K9 Hero Haven, visit k9herohaven.org or visit the Facebook page.