Retired Military Dog Reunited with Her Former Handler After Year Apart: 'It Feels Wonderful'
"I've been thinking about this pretty much since the day I left her," Sgt. Angela Cardone said of the reunion with her former canine partner.
Bogi and U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Angela Cardone are together again.
The pair first met in 2017 at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, there Bogi, 5, and Sgt. Cardone, 22, trained together to help the Belgian Malinois master her duties, which included narcotics detection, safety sweeps, and vehicle searches.
Sgt. Cardone and Bogi were partners for 15 months and during that time they formed an unbreakable bond. Sgt. Cardone considered Bogi to be her "best friend" and "daughter."
The two separated when Sgt. Cardone was reassigned to Hawaii, and, unfortunately, she was unable to say goodbye to Bogi before leaving for her new assignment. For the past 18 months, Sgt. Cardone worried she would never see her canine companion again.
"It kind of felt like a piece of me was missing," Sgt. Cardone told PEOPLE of her time away from the pooch.
But not all of that time was spent worrying. In June 2020, Sgt. Cardone learned that Bogi was going to be medically retired due to a neck injury, and she instantly knew she wanted to provide the pooch with a forever home. To ensure she could be partners with the pup forever, Sgt. Cardone reached out to American Humane for help.
American Humane, the country's first and largest humane organization, is dedicated to helping and protecting animals. As part of their work, the organization has a military program that strives to care for America's hard-working military dogs. Through this program, American Humane helps military dog handlers reunite with their former partners by guiding handlers through the complicated adoption process, tackling the red tape the comes with transporting an animal internationally, and by covering the cost of the dog's transportation and future veterinary care.
The organization was able to work their magic and help Sgt. Cardone adopt Bogi. On Feb. 16, the day Sgt. Cardone had been waiting 18 months for arrived — Bogi became a permanent part of her life. After two days of travel from Japan to Hawaii, which was covered by American Humane, Bogi walked into the Queen Kapi'olani Hotel in Honolulu and into Sgt. Cardone's arms as her adopted dog.
"The first few moments of seeing Bogi … it was indescribable. I never thought that this day would actually come so it's just a really heartwarming type of feeling," Sgt. Cardone said of that special moment.
At their reunion, Bogi gladly accepted hugs, leis, and toys from Sgt. Cardone. The pair then took their first steps into their new life together on a beautiful Hawaiian beach.
"It feels wonderful. Like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest," Sgt. Cardone added. "I've been thinking about this pretty much since the day I left her."
It was a happy moment for American Humane too.
"American Humane is honored to bring Bogi home to reunite with her best friend, Sgt. Angela Cardone. We are thrilled to give Bogi the dignified, comfortable retirement she deserves. Sgt. Cardone and Bogi made so many sacrifices in service to our country. Bringing them back together is the least we can do in return." Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said in a statement.
To learn more about American Humane, and to support their work, visit the organization's website.