In a tear-jerking reunion, US Marine Jeff DeYoung was reunited with his best friend last week — a black lab named Cena. A trained bomb-sniffing dog, Cena saved his handler from countless improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as kept him company during the most trying point in Jeff’s life.
A MAN AND HIS DOG
Having one of the most high-pressure assignments imaginable, Jeff and Cena were deployed in order to detect some 300 different kinds of IEDs. As one can imagine, going out and looking for bombs can be a very tense occupation, as it can quickly escalate into something incredibly dangerous.
In order to make it through the war, Jeff and Cena had to take solace in one another’s company. “We slept together in fighting holes. We ate the same food. He drank out of my water system. I carried him across rivers. We had a hail storm and a dust storm and I had to cover myself on top of him,” said DeYoung to Click on Detroit. And while Jeff kept Cena safe during firefights, when it came to safely crossing unknown terrain, Cena and his well-tuned nose protected Jeff a from accidentally stepping on a dirty bomb – a common cause of death among combatants. In fact, the DeYoung family credits Cena with Jeff’s survival during his time in Afghanistan.
AFTER THE WAR
Four years after his return home, DeYoung now has a family, with a loving wife and two daughters. And while Jeff’s home life has provided him a much needed sense of security, it was very challenging for him to put the war behind him – especially knowing that Cena was still out there in the line of duty. “We never got to say good-bye. They thought it would be easier. I didn’t agree,” said DeYoung to the Detroit Free Press.
So when it came time for Cena to retire, Jeff’s wife Lindsay immediately got into contact with people at Mission K9 Rescue — an organization dedicated to reuniting veterans with their service dogs. And while Jeff was excited for the reunion, after four years apart, he was concerned that his old war buddy would not remember him. However, as you can clearly see in the video at the top, those concerns turned out to be unfounded.
Now a complete family again, Lindsay hopes that Cena’s adoption will help Jeff further acclimate himself back into civilian life, as the transition has been difficult for him. “I know when he got back, he had a lot of separation issues,” she said to the Detroit Free Press. “I think it’s going to be really good for him.”
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Detroit Free Press – Amid licks and smiles, Michigan veteran and his bomb-detecting war dog are reunited
Click on Detroit – Michigan soldier reunited with service dog after 4 years apart