Since the dawn of time, military dogs have played an important part in the United States Armed Forces. They’ve been taught to carry out critical missions that have saved military and civilian lives. They are considered heroes in their own right because of the vital service they bring to the country.
Joe reveals, “She still likes to nibble on my thumbs.” The dog still jumps on his chest to give him licks, just as previously. Tess’ muzzle had become gray, but she was still the same dog Joe had grown to know and love in Afghanistan.
But the process of bringing Tess home was far from easy – it involved copious amounts of paperwork, help from family, friends, nonprofits, and U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski’s office.
Joe’s wife, Stephanie, has been an integral part of securing Tess for adoption. She says that she has been hearing stories about the pup since she and Joe started dating years ago. That’s how she understood how important Tess was in Joe’s life, and this drove her to begin the years-long process to get the two veterans reunited.
This huge amount of effort from the couple and all those who helped them were all worth it, as they were able to bring Tess back home with them.
“Looking at her right now, it feels like it’s been a lifetime, but it also feels like it was just yesterday that I said goodbye to her,” Joe said of his reunion with Tess. “I know she’ll be in a wonderful home that loves her from now till the end of time. I’m just relieved to see her again.”
Joe is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Stephanie has already witnessed Tess’ impact on her family. She claims that since Tess moved in with them, her husband has been sleeping a lot better. Joe concurs.
“Just having her around, being able to say, ‘Hey come here, Mama,’ and then hear her collar jingle all the way towards me and the way she still gets happy when she sees me and everything like that,” he explained.
The Steenbekes said that Tess has been settling well in her new home. The couple says that they are looking forward to giving her the best retirement life ever. She surely deserves it! As a dog who served in the military, Tess has been working hard all her life since she was a little pup. Now, she gets to sit back and live life like a regular dog.
The pair’s story of reunion is truly heartwarming. The look on their faces says it all – Tess and Joe make each other happy, and they are certainly better together.