DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s a reunion we’ve seen countless times on YouTube, but it never gets old: soldiers returning home to see their beloved pets.
It’s touching, and in a world full of troubles the simple love between a soldier and man’s best friend is something special. But the reunion between Justin Baylor and his dogs Kip and Raleigh wasn’t always a sure thing.
“I found out in October of 2016 that we were going, and it was real short notice,” said Baylor.
Baylor was being deployed to Germany, serving as a behavior specialist and aiding in the recovery of soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says finding a place to stay for his dogs wasn’t going well.
“Giving them up for adoption or taking them to the Humane Society was the absolute last option I had,” he said.
That is, until the ARL stepped in and found a foster home that could take care of them for nine months.
“It was a huge relief, because otherwise I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Baylor.
With that taken care of, Baylor was free to focus on his work--but the time away was tough.
“I had a picture of them on my refrigerator in my barracks room. I just missed them, I called occasionally just to get updates, my mom finally sent me a picture of them that they took, so I would look at that every morning. I’m not married, I’m single, so they’re very much part of my life,” said Baylor.
On Friday, Baylor returned to the ARL to pick up his dogs, and the rest, well, the video says it all.
“It’s really cool how Iowans rallied around the soldiers so we can do what we can do and take care of the things that matter most,” said Baylor.
Baylor says he can’t thank the ARL enough and hopes to rely on them again when he eventually re-deploys.