Reuniting with a close old friend you haven’t seen in a while can be a powerful feeling. In the case of Army sergeant Tom Hansen, he was about to reunite with the service dog that he partnered with in Afghanistan.
Tom has been away from his best friend for two years, explaining to NBC News, “It’s like a part of me has been missing.”
He added, “Getting her back now, it’ll make me whole again.”
In the video, he’s seen waiting for his four-legged pal Taylor to arrive at the airport and when she finally arrives, she runs straight for Tom for a hug.
Taylor is now a retired military working dog. She and Tom formed an amazing bond, as he protected Taylor during firefights and she protected him from bombs. Taylor was so effective at saving American lives, the Taliban had a bounty placed on her. When dogs like Taylor are done with their service, they are usually put up for adoption.
Molli Oliver, a flight attendant for United Airlines, works to reunite retired military working dogs with their former partners. She explained, “I love the dogs, and I love my military that’s taken care of my freedom my whole life, so it’s a win-win to combine the two.”
She travels at her own expense to make these meetings possible and it takes some time to make it all happen. This is her fifth successful reunion of former Army (human and canine) partners.
Tom and Molli are now working together to make this type of reunion possible for others, and started a crowd-funding page at YouCaring.com called Reuniting Battle Buddies.
Molli explains on the YouCaring site: “I flew her [Taylor] to BOISE to her former handler, Tom Hansen. An Army Veteran. He and I are currently working on the 5th Labrador coming out of Ft. Leonard Wood to be reunited with her handler. And we are in the final stages of finalizing our 501c3. Thank you all for your support. More updates as we finish all of this.”
The site received an outpouring of support, with one person commenting: “Molli, I would like to volunteer to help with this cause. I am a retired airline employee. How can I contact you directly?”
Another wrote: “Isn’t it amazing how there can be such a kind, caring human being, and then we have ‘others’ who are so evil and materialistic, being praised and built up in the news. It’s too bad the media wouldn’t pay more attention to people like Molli who spend their lives trying to do good and help others.”
On the YouTube video of this story, one person commented: “This woman does a wonderful thing, but the military should simply hand over these animals to those who loved them the most. Here is your paperwork, here is your dog, and thank you for your service,” adding, “It is absolutely pathetic how veterans are treated in this country. We have the money to take care of people who contribute nothing, so I think we certainly be able to find money to reunite these handlers with their K9’s.”