This story happened a few years ago, but it remains a beautiful reminder of the incredible bond between dogs and humans.
Army Staff Sgt. Tom Hansen was deployed to Afghanistan twice and once to Iraq. During their special forces missions in Afghanistan, he had a brave companion who protected him: a yellow Labrador named “Princess Taylor.”
“Tay-Tay,” as she is fondly called, was trained to find explosives, ammunition, weapons, and vehicles—about everything except for people.
Taylor once found an explosive within a step of Hansen. Another time, she sniffed out a compound that wasn’t a target of interest. She went nuts at the compound wall, and when the soldiers looked in, they found thousands of pounds of homemade explosives.
With her keen sense of smell, Tay-Tay has saved the lives of Hansen and the 11-soldier unit. She was so good at her job, the Taliban had a bounty on her head.
“I’m very lucky I came back with all my limbs,” he said. “I thank her for it. She’s who I have. It’s because of her I came back alive. I wouldn’t have asked for anybody else.”
Sadly, Hansen had to say goodbye to his canine partner in 2014 after he left active duty.
Another handler needed a capable dog, so Taylor had to remain on duty. While Hansen was upset by the decision, he took comfort in knowing they would be reunited one day. He just had to wait. After all, a military dog’s first handler gets first dibs on them when they retire.
“When they save your life that many times, they become part of your family,” he said. “It’s so hard to let them go. That’s the hardest part of being a dog handler.”
And after two years apart, the Army buddies finally reunited on June 4, 2016, all thanks to a woman whose mission is to bring military dogs and their handlers back together.
Doing so is no easy task, as Molli Oliver uses her own resources to make it possible. She also flies with the dog around the world if needed. But, she does it all out of love and gratitude.
“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 said.
Molli, a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines, volunteered to bring Taylor from Missouri to her new home in Boise, where Hansen lives.
The dog flew first class to Boise Airport, where Hansen waited for her. He felt excited and nervous, not knowing if Taylor will remember him.
But once Tay-Tay saw him, she bolted towards Hansen! The dog obviously missed her dad.
“That’s my girl,” Hansen said as he hugged Tay-Tay.
Tay-Tay is the fourth military dog that Molli has reunited with their owners through her nonprofit, Molli Uniting Military Service Dogs, or MUM’s Dogs.
“Molli is like family now to us,” Hansen said. “What she did for me and Taylor was amazing. I couldn’t thank her enough for reuniting us.”
Reuniting military dogs with their handlers can cost thousands of dollars, so Hansen is very grateful to Molli for making their reunion happen at no cost to him. He now serves on the board of Molli’s nonprofit.
Now that they’re back together, Hansen’s goal is to give Taylor the best life she could possibly have.
After serving the country all her life, Tay-Tay deserves to grow old in a loving home with the man who first showed her love.
You can watch the pair’s joyful reunion in the following video.
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