After his return home, Army Staff Sergeant James Harrington hoped to one day reconnect with his ex-partner. Two years later, Sgt. Harrington got his wish.
Standing at the entrance to Concourse B at Armstrong Intl. Airport, in New Orleans, Harrington waited with bated breath as Ryky, the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, trotted through the terminal. And, as if their time apart had never even occurred, Ryky leapt right into Harrington’s arms. “She remembers my voice,” he exclaimed.
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After serving together for four years in Afghanistan, it is no surprise that the old bomb sniffing dog would remember Harrington. In fact, before their deployment, Harrington and Ryky both trained together at the Lackland Air Force Base for 19 weeks, more than enough time to forge a lifelong bond.
During their time in Afghanistan, Ryky and Sgt. Harrington served as a bomb detection unit, leading the charge on missions to protect her unit against deadly roadside explosives.
In one especially harrowing encounter, Harrington’s convoy came under attack. Rather than remain in the safety of his armored vehicle, he and the bomb sniffing dog set out and cleared a path to the wounded, allowing medics to give them the first aid they so desperately needed. To commemorate their bravery in the face of danger, Ryky was awarded the K-9 Medal for Exceptional Service.
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From Bomb Sniffing Dog to Civilian
Part of Harrington’s initial reservation over whether Ryky would remember him is due to the fact that the dog remained in service two years after Harrington came back to the states. In that time, Harrington took up work as National Guard Military Police. But even when they were apart, Harrington made a point to keep tabs on his favorite girl.
After her second handler was injured and opted to leave the service, it was decided that Ryky’s years of service were finally at an end. The call was put in to her previous handlers, and Harrington jumped at the opportunity to take her home. Personally dealing with PTSD and having some difficulty returning back to civilian life, Harrington hoped that Ryky’s presence would act as a therapy dog, helping him cope with life outside the service.
Now officially reunited, Harrington’s exuberance can hardly be contained. “I got my partner back. It’s too good to be true,” said Harrington as they left the airport together. “Somebody pinch me.”
The Times-Picayune – Soldier and his bomb sniffing dog reunited after years apart