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U.S. Soldier Finally Reunited with Iraqi Dog

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Four months, 70,000 signatures and one international kerfuffle after Spc. Gwen Beberg tried to ship home a puppy from Iraq, the soldier was reunited with her dog at a VFW hall in Minnesota this weekend.

The black border collie mix named Ratchet happily licked his master as Beberg marveled at how much the dog had grown, the Star Tribune reported. Beberg reportedly got down near the floor to see the dog and said, “Hey, baby. Oh, you got so big – Oh, you got so big, Yeah, who’s home? Who’s home, huh?”

Beberg, who just returned from a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq, risked the wrath of the Army to save Ratchet from certain death or cruelty on the streets of Iraq. When the Army blocked Ratchet’s transport out of the war zone, a friend started an online petition that went viral. Baghdad Pups, an offshoot of the International Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stepped up and arranged Ratchet’s trip home.

When PEOPLE Pets talked to Beberg in the fall, she said she planned on training Ratchet to be a therapy dog to visit veteran’s hospitals. And she hopes Ratchet’s success will get people more interested in Baghdad Pups so that more dogs can be rescued.