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Missing dog reunited with California veteran

By BEATRIZ VALENZUELA | San Bernardino County Sun, Calif. | Published: October 17, 2015

SAN BERNARDINO (Tribune News Service) — After a week of searching, a San Bernardino disabled Army veteran was reunited with his beloved support dog, Twix, late Thursday night.

“We found Twix!” exclaimed John Silva’s wife, Rachel Hester, in a message.

The missing pit bull was found Thursday night in Arrowbear, said Teddy Garcia Jr., one of the volunteer searchers and a member of Sherri’s Project: Wounded Warrior Pack — a nonprofit that finds and trains service dogs for combat-wounded military, as well as victims of military sexual trauma.

While following up on a lead that turned out to be a dead end, Garcia and Silva received a solid tip that Twix was in the mountain community.

“Someone sent me a picture and asked, ‘Is this your dog?’” said Silva. “I knew it was him right away.”

Silva immediately called Hester and the trio began making plans to retrieve Twix.

As they drove up to the mountain area, they learned that on the evening Twix had gone missing, the friendly dog had tried to get into a man’s truck that was parked in a nearby shopping center.

“I think he just wanted to go for a ride,” laughed Silva Friday as Twix lovingly laid on the floor unaware of the drama that had been unfolding over the last week.

When that man tried to push Twix out of his truck, a woman drove up and saw the man trying to get the pit bull out of his vehicle.

“She told us she thought the guy was trying to abandon Twix,” explained Silva. “She thought he was the owner just trying to dump him.”

Incensed, the woman told Silva she began to argue with the man who eventually blew her off and left. That’s when she picked up Twix and decided to find him a foster home.

“So he was just chilling and having a great time, being fed and loved on up in Arrowbear,” smiled Silva.

Last week, Silva and Hester discovered Twix and another dog, Duke, had gone missing from their back yard. After searching for the dogs for a few hours, the couple was only able to find Duke.

The loss of Twix took a toll on the veteran. While not a certified service dog, the couple say that Twix has been instrumental in helping the veteran remain calm and in control.

After spending six years in the military and completing two deployments — one to Iraq and a second to Afghanistan — Silva acknowledges he returned changed, occasionally becoming upset, depressed and lonely.

It was an extremely emotional reunion for Silva and Hester when Twix’s foster family returned Twix.

“I started crying when I saw his head in the truck,” said Silva. “I’m just glad to have him back.”

Garcia, who has a support dog of his own, knows the importance of getting Silva and Twix reunited.

“I have five dogs,” said Garcia, “and one of my dogs saved my life when I was in a low place. That’s why this is important.”

During their week-long search, the couple say they have met many wonderful people willing to give up their time to help them find their missing dog.

“Every day I had a message or a text giving us tips, trying to catch dogs they thought were Twix and just offering us prayers and support,” said Hester Friday morning. “It’s amazing and overwhelming to know that there are still very, very good people out there.”

“I just want to thank everyone who helped and who shared the story,” said Silva

“I was not expecting it to blow up as much as it did,” Hester said. “I was hoping to get some people’s attention. ... The had half a million views. Some people responded from the U.K.”

The couple was relieved to have the support because they say pit bulls have been vilified in recent years.

Silva says that it’s usually unscrupulous owners who help perpetuate the stereotype of the aggressive pit bull.

“We didn’t know if people would be like, ‘Oh no, a pit bull is a mean dog,’ but, I mean, look at him. He’s just a big goofball,” Silva said.

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©2015 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)
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