MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - There was an emotional reunion Friday in Montgomery County where a retired U.S. Navy sailor and his service dog saw each other for the first time in three years.
Call it a reunion of a lifetime. It's the moment Chief Petty Officer Fabian Salazar has been waiting for.
“My heart's pounding already. I’m shaking,” Salazar said Friday.
A few years back, the now-retired U.S. Navy Sailor and his partner, Max, were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the explosive detection team. They parted ways in 2013.
“Because of my position in the military, I had to pass him on so I could continue to run the kennel, and then life took me to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and I had to say bye,” Salazar said.
But Salazar never forgot his four-legged partner, whom he credits for saving his life, including a time when Max prevented a close call during a routine mission.
“If he hadn’t pulled me, I would have never looked back, and he (the enemy) would have a free shot at all eight of us who were pinned down," Salazar said. "And because of that, on July 18, 2012, I was able to lift my head up and realize I’m going to get to go home, and it’s because of this guy."
It's a home Max will now share with his forever family.
“This is your family, Max. You brought me home to them. Now I bring you home,” Salazar said.
Photos: Retired sailor reunties with K-9 partner
It's a reunion made possible, thanks to Mission K9 Rescue, a Houston-based organization dedicated to helping retired working dogs like Max be reunited with their handlers.
All hard work that’s worth it, thanks to touching moments like this.
“There wasn’t a dry eye around here, we were all crying, those two belong together,” said Kristen Maurer, President of Mission K9 rescue.
And together they will now be.
“These guys are sometimes forgotten heroes," Salazar said. "Everyone talks about the two-legged heroes, but these guys are out here, too."
Salazar went on to say he'll be giving Max a true retired combat veteran welcome soon and looks forward to spoiling him.
If you want to learn more about Houston's Mission K9 Rescue, tap/click here.