CEDAR PARK, Texas - Two U.S. Air Force veterans definitely have reason to be thankful this week. A senior airman adopted her retired military working dog partner and is bringing him home for the holidays.
When Catherine Lund joined the U.S. Air Force, she knew she wanted to train with military working dogs. Elute was her first K9 partner. The pair were once practically attached at the hip.
“I basically spent every single chance I got with him. The only time I didn't was if I was home asleep in bed,” said Lund.
The German Shepherd worked for Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo detecting drugs, apprehending suspects, searching buildings, and teaching Lund a whole lot about being a K9 handler along the way.
“Your first dog you ever get, it's a bond like no other dog,” Lund said.
In February 2018, Catherine left the U.S. Air Force, but she'd always hoped one day Elute would find his way back into her arms.
“It was hard getting out of the military because I wasn't sure if I was ever going to be allowed to come see him, and go hang out with him, see my buddy,” said Lund.
Then she learned her buddy was getting out too.
“There was a lot of emotions building up to it. I was very excited. It almost didn't feel real that it was actually happening,” Lund said.
Lund's application to adopt Elute was approved. She picked him up Monday.
“I was really happy to see him, of course, but it just kind of felt like, ‘Alright, it's been too long. It's time to go. Let’s get you out of here. Let’s go home,’” said Lund.
The military has allowed K9 handlers to adopt their military working dogs since 2000. Earlier this month, Texas voters passed Proposition 10, ensuring animals who serve with law enforcement can also retire and be adopted. Lund said she's surprised that wasn't already allowed.
“Doesn't seem right. so I'm glad that they passed that and handlers are able to take home their partners,” she said.
“I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure he has a wonderful life, so I can't imagine that somebody would take that away. I feel like it's a win-win for everybody,” Lund added.
Lund said now Elute needs to be trained to be a dog again.
“He doesn't have a job anymore. And of course, there will be lots and lots of couch time, and lots of toys time. We're going to go see the beach for the first time. We're going to go see the ocean,” said Lund.
You can follow Elute’s retirement journey on Instagram at @rmwd_elute.