Des Moines – Marine Sergeant Ross Gundlach was a dog handler in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. Gundlach promised his bomb-sniffing dog, Casey, that he would find her again, and last Friday, his wish came true and he was able to keep that promise.
He has been reunited with his constant companion in Afghanistan and it was all thanks to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds.
While he was based in Afghanistan during 2011-2012, Gundlach and Casey carried out 150 missions together. According to Gundlach, Casey never missed a single bomb and he credits the dog with the fact that he had been able to make it home safely. He even has a tattoo on his right forearm, showing Casey with angel wings and a halo, sitting a the foot of a Marine.
‘The first time I talked to him… (Gundlach) said, “I would swim to Japan to get my dog,”’ said State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.
Sgt. Gundlach, 25, thought he was visiting Des Moines on Friday to plead his case before a government committee to get Casey back.
Unknown to him, the Iowa Elks Association had donated $8,500 to purchase K-9 Vega as a replacement for Casey.
When Sgt. Gundlach was told that Casey was there for him to take home, he was almost overcome with emotion.
Despite being apart for each other for almost a year, it was immediately clear that Casey remembered Gundlach.
Her paws slipped out from under her from excitement when they saw each other, and her tail wagged throughout the 30-minute presentation.
‘I owe her. I want to take care of her…I’ll just try to give her the best life she can have from here on out,’ said Sgt. Gundlach.
He plans to return home with him to Madison, where he has enrolled at the University of Wisconsin.