Retiring service dog reunites with Denver Marine

DENVER - Time has a way of taking its time, at exactly the moments we want it to go faster.

"I have missed him. A lot," Matthew Foster said, fidgeting anxiously at Denver International Airport Thursday morning.

"I didn't sleep at all, I was up all night," he said, checking his watch.

The plane he's waiting for landed 15 minutes ago. He hasn't seen the precious cargo on board for more than a year.

"When you're in combat sleeping in the back of a truck, or on the floor of a shack that you guys built on your own, with a dog for eight months, it's a bond you can't break. Pretty amazing," Foster said.

Marine veteran Corporal Matt Foster has waited a long time to see the soldier he served alongside in Afghanistan come home. He calls him his best friend.

"We were together the entire time, 24/7," he said.

Together, Foster and a Labrador retriever named Mick scoured the war zone of Afghanistan. Their job was to sniff out hidden bombs.

"We found one, and completed 180 patrols while we were there," Foster said.

The two spent eight months together, everyday. They even slept in the same bed, wherever that happened to be.

"I owe him my life. Physically and emotionally he kept me going over there. He deserves the world and I plan on giving that to him," Foster said.

Mick, now seven years old, just retired from the Marines, and Foster has been working for more than a year with Mission K9 rescue to bring him home to Denver.

The last time they saw each other was when Foster's deployment ended in late April, 2013. It was also Mick's fourth, and final, trip to war.

When they spot each other at the airport, Mick nearly leaps over the crowd of people to get to Foster. His tail won't stop wagging and he's panting with excitement.

Foster leans in for a kiss, "I missed you! You doing alright?"

You can just barely see Foster's eyes welling up as Mick happily licks him in reply.

Mick will live out the rest of his days here in Colorado, with Foster, who is no longer in the Marines, but now works at an animal hospital and studying business and finance.

"It's a different bond when you're over there with this dog and he keeps you alive. Not only that, but emotionally and everything. Just keeps you together," Foster said. "They're putting their life on the line just as much as we are. And the sad truth is, a lot of dogs die doing this. And it's because they're trying to protect us. It's just amazing what they do."

They spent eight months together in Afghanistan, and a year apart.

"I did not stop until I know I was getting him," Foster said.

All that time waiting for this reunion was worth every second.

"He's a brother. Everybody in my unit's been texting and calling me saying they're so excited, and they're going to come visit and see him, because everybody loves him so much. He's one of the guys," Foster said, petting a very happy Labrador perched comfortably by his side, just like he was more than a year ago.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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