PTSD Dog: Marine Reunited With His Four-Legged Battle Buddy
Three years after an IED blast separated this Marine from his bomb-sniffing dog, the pair was reunited.
HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – Every day back in 2011, Lance Corporal Jared Heine and his black Labrador retriever named Spike worked side-by-side, patrolling routes and looking for roadside bombs.
Heine and Spike took part in more than 100 combat missions inside Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand Province, working tirelessly to clear routes ahead of other Marines, in an attempt to find the buried bombs that could kill or maim their comrades.
Not only did Lance Corporal Heine and his dog Spike watch each other’s backs outside the wire, they also slept in the same bunk, and often greeted Heine’s mother together via Skype.
“We were just like brothers,” Heine said. “We were like one person.”
The two had been inseparable since Spike was only a puppy and they depended on each other every day for survival and companionship.
Spike was trained to sniff out explosives and signal Heine when he’d find them, and when the two went on missions together, they’d often take the lead. Spike located roughly 10 explosive devices on such patrols.
“He saved a lot of lives,” Heine said.
Unfortunately however, their relationship was ripped apart by the fiery flash of the duo’s third IED blast; one which ended Heine’s war.
Lance Corporal Heine suffered a traumatic brain injury and was sent home with a purple heart, but without his beloved dog, Spike.
All Heine had left to remind him of his best friend were some pictures and a gold and purple LSU collar he’d put on Spike when they first met.
After the blast, Spike was transferred to a new unit and sent on another tour.
Heine returned home to Louisiana, suffering from memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, not knowing if he’d ever see his canine comrade again
He battled fiercely with PTSD and his mother watched helplessly as her son slowly slipped into a deep depression.
Heine’s mother, Mary, knew she had to do something. Her son only seemed to cheer up when he talked about his four-legged battle buddy Spike, whom he missed dearly.
Desperate to help her son, Mary turned to the internet and sought assistance from some of Heine’s friends, as well as several military working dog groups, who were eventually able to locate Spike.
She had done it, but there was still one problem.
Spike had a new job, and a new partner.
Spike’s New Partner
Spike had been living and working side-by-side with 27-year-old Police Officer Laura Taylor.
The two had been nearly inseparable for almost two years, and much like Heine, Spike was the first and only dog Officer Taylor had partnered with in uniform.
The duo spent 870 hours training together and had undergone more than 800 security sweeps. Needless to say, Officer Taylor and Spike had become very close.
“He never lets me down – he’s what I depend on and has always been there,” Taylor said in an interview. “I can’t explain how much he means to me.”
However, after hearing Jared Heine’s story, Officer Taylor knew what she had to do.
Spike was soon retired from police service and tasked with a new mission: to help heal a wounded comrade.
Heine attended Spike’s retirement ceremony in Virginia and the pair was reunited.
Heine thanked Officer Taylor and Capitol Police Chief Steve Pike for their generosity and understanding, and for allowing Spike to retire to civilian life with his former handler.
Chief Pike said that Spike had “served the Commonwealth with bravery, love and devotion,” and had “earned the right to retire.”
“He has one more mission to fulfill,” the Chief said as he removed Spike’s police badge and produced the gold and purple LSU collar Heine had brought home from Afghanistan.
Chief Pike put the worn collar on Spike and Heine attached a colorful leash to his old friend.
You’ve not only made a man happy, but you’ve made a Marine whole again.”
After being reunited, Heine said that he plans to keep Spike active, but this time, he’ll only have to find ducks, not bombs.
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