CBS NewsThere are few things on the Internet that call for a bigger box of tissues than those heartwarming reunions between soldiers and their dogs. So, brace yourself: We've rounded up some of our favorite moments from this year in honor of Veterans Day.
Soldier Greets Her Dog on TV
It's never easy to leave your dog behind, but it must be especially heart-wrenching for members of the military who don't have someone to leave their four-legged friend with.
When Capt. Jessamyn Jempson had to head to Afghanistan for a year, she turned to Dogs on Deployment, a group that helps troops by caring for their pets. They hooked up 3-year-old Emma, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, with foster mom Sylvia Washington. And when Jempson returned, she and Emma were reunited on an emotional episode of The Queen Latifah Show that aired in September. The TV studio was so busy that Emma didn't realize Jempson was there at first. But there was no doubt that she recognized her beloved owner once it sunk in!
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Casey, who served with Sgt. Ross Gundlach in Afghanistan, was returned to her handler in a surprise ceremony at the Iowa statehouse on Armed Services Day. Gundlach said he'd promised the 4-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever that if they "made it out alive, I'd do whatever it took to find her."
And he did. When Gundlach, 25, left active duty to take classes at the University of Wisconsin, he started trying to track Casey down. He discovered that she'd finished her military service and was detecting explosives for the Iowa State Fire Marshal Division. State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds understood Gundlach's attachment to the dog and worked behind the scenes to have Casey returned to him. After inviting Gundlach to the statehouse under the guise of meeting with a committee to try to win Casey back, Reynolds arranged a celebration to reunite the pair in the capitol rotunda.
"War Buddy" Comes Home
Bailey, an Anatolian Shepherd mix, stole Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady's heart when his National Guard unit adopted her at 8 weeks old in Afghanistan. But Brady had to leave the pup behind when his unit returned home.
With Bailey still on his mind, Brady called Doris Scofield, who works with Guardians of Rescue and Save-A-Pet, and asked for her help in bringing Bailey to the U.S. The Guardians raised $5,000 in just over a week - enough to rescue Bailey. "The least we can do is help [members of the military] get their war buddy home," Scofield said at the time.
Plenty of fireworks went off as the 11-month-old pup had a tail-wagging reunion with Brady at the Save-A-Pet facility in New York on July 4. "You saw the light bulb go off in her head" when she heard Brady whistle for her, Scofield said. Bailey smothered her old pal with happy kisses. The duo then had a road trip back to California, where the soldier lives with his two sons.
The Guardians of Rescue were also at the center of the sweet reunion between a New York National Guard unit and a dog family from Afghanistan. While they were on active duty there, they befriended a pregnant dog named Sheba. She gave birth to seven puppies, and the Guardsmen made sure they were all healthy and well fed. But when the U.S. started pulling troops out of Afghanistan, they had to leave Sheba and her puppies behind.
They contacted the Guardians for help, and in September, they were reunited with Sheba and her 6-month-old puppies. Two soldiers took home two pups each, and three others brought home one each. Meanwhile, Sheba was being considered as a therapy dog to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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This happy dog could not contain her excitement when her soldier "daddy" finally came home after six months overseas. We're sure her scrambling, kissing, hugging and crying welcome was well deserved.
We could put this video on replay to run all day - and we're not alone. It has more than 5 million views on YouTube! Viewer Star Cordell summed it up perfectly: "It makes you want to laugh and cry. There is nothing like the love of a pet."