Military dog to be reunited with Fort Carson sergeant
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A four-legged soldier came home to Colorado Springs Saturday.
It’s been a journey for military working dog Jasper, who, a week before he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, suffered a life-threatening heatstroke, forcing him into an early retirement and forcing his handler, Staff Sgt. Jordan Lee of Fort Carson’s 4th Infantry Division, to deploy to Afghanistan without his bomb-sniffing best friend.
There was no guarantee that Lee would see Jasper again. But with some dedication and hard work, Military Working Dogs Adoptions is reuniting them.
The organizations said airline after airline refused to fly Jasper, a pitbull mix, home from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where he was retired, because he was an aggressive breed.
Several volunteers with the non-profit organization agreed to bring Jasper on legs of the drive from the base in San Antonio, Texas to be with Lee’s wife Jessica to await the sergeant’s return from war later this year.
“We basically leave no one behind, including working war dogs. They really are forgotten heroes,” said Ridpath. “These dogs are worth every penny that goes into bringing them home.”
The dogs are transported from across the country, and in some cases, even from overseas. The organization has brought home more than 300 dogs like Jasper with the help of donations and volunteers.
On Saturday, Ruby Ridpath the director of educational outreach for Military War Dogs Adoptions, drove the final stretch of the three-day trip from Texas.
“You’re home, you’re home,” she told Jasper, and tearfully hugged Jessica Lee, after presenting her with a shirt and goodie bag with treats for the medium-sized tan and white dog.
Mrs. Lee said it will be some work to get Jasper acclimated to his new home, and new canine companion, a St. Bernard mix named Nixon.
She’ll have help from a coworker’s boyfriend Aaron Miller, a contracted dog handler for the State Department. He met Jasper while he was training in a bomb-sniffing dog program. He said that handlers spend 8-13 hours a day for three months with their dogs.
“He will never forget his dad,” said Miller, adding then when Staff Sgt. Lee gets back, the two will pick up where they left off.
Jasper and Lee were certified together as a team. He visited a recovering Jasper in the animal hospital before he was deployed in April. Jessica said the dog lifted his head and tried to go with him.
She’s doesn’t have a date when her husband will get back from Afghanistan, but when Jordan Lee returns, he’ll come home to a wife, two young sons, and the war dog he left behind.
“It’s almost like getting a piece of my husband back,” Jessica said.