With a flash of recognition, Bogi, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, wagged her tail upon seeing her former handler, and knew she was home for good.
Bogi, a retired military dog, was reunited this morning with her original handler and trainer, Sgt. Angela Cardone of the U.S. Marine Corps at Queen Kapiolani Hotel in Waikiki, thanks to efforts by the nonprofit American Humane.
Bogi had been working in Iwakuni, Japan, since the age of 2, where she was trained by Cardone as a narcotics detection dog. They spent about two years working together until Cardone was re-assigned to Honolulu last summer.
This month, Bogi was medically retired due to a broken bone in her neck which prevents her from working or wearing a collar.
After more than a year apart, they were joyfully reunited, and Bogi’s new home is now in Honolulu.
American Humane’s military program helps cover travel costs and the logistics of reuniting a retired military dog with its former handler for formal adoption — a sometimes expensive and complicated process with a lot of paperwork.
The military adopts out retired dogs, preferably to their former handler, according to Dr. Lesa Staubus, chief veterinary officer of American Humane, but sometimes they are geographically so far apart it can cost a lot.
With the Washington, D.C., nonprofit’s help, Bogi flew more than 4,000 miles across the ocean to reunite with Cardone.
“We do it because we care about animals,” said Staubus, , “but we also do it because we care about our service members and the importance of the human animal bond.”
Bogi is still young, and in good health, according to Staubus, and has plenty of years ahead of her as a pet.
Cardone, 22, was still in half disbelief that she would actually get to take Bogi home.
She planned to take Bogi to the pet store to get treats, to grab a puppuccino and eventually introduce her to Oahu’s beaches, dog parks and hiking trails.
When it came to doing her job for the military, Bogi was always good, she said, but now she can play.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” she said. “She’s the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet.”