The Christmas Season is all about getting together with family and spending time with loved ones. One former soldier and his service dog received the greatest gift this year when the pair were reunited at last in what the man is calling a “blessing.” The heartwarming reunion is a great reminder of the role that a man’s best friend can play in a person’s life.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Mike Alcala was a dog handler who worked closely with now ten-year-old John, a German shepherd who has been separated from his long-time handler for two years now. Now, with retirement on the horizon for the old man John, at long last, he was reunited with his owner, Mike, with the help of American Humane.
Mike and John worked alongside each other for three long years, with the pair rarely leaving each other’s side and each playing a vital role in the team that a dog and its handler form while on duty. After a reassignment landed in Mike’s hands in 2021, however, it became clear that his time with his canine best friend was coming to a close.
Instead of closing the book on that story, a new chapter is being written as the pair is now reunited. Mike explained how he became so close with the dog, saying, “We worked together every day for the three years I was there, give or take a few days. The bond started strong and ended stronger.”
With John’s retirement date closing in, American Humane stepped in to reunite the duo for the later years of John’s life. American Humane is a Washington D.C. group that specializes in bringing together retired service dogs with their former handlers, a sometimes difficult task but one that brings joy to the faces of servicemen and women all the time.
Mike spoke to American Humane, saying, “When I found out that John was up for retirement, of course, I wanted him so bad. I heard about American Humane through a buddy of mine, so I thought I would reach out and see what American Humane could do for me and John. They were gracious to help go pick him up in Hawaii, transport him back to me, and without me having to pay anything. It’s just been a blessing for us.”
Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said of the job well done, “We are grateful for the opportunity to bring military working dog John home for the holidays and reunite him with his best friend. American Humane is honored to help give this four-legged veteran the comfortable retirement he deserves after eight years of distinguished service to our country.”
This Christmas Season is a feel-good story for so many reasons, but it is great to know that John and Mike have once again been brought together. This time, they hope to stay together forever as the pair moves onto their post military lives and continues their relationship as a loving and loyal team.
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