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Heroes Reunited in Mississippi

Neither the Pacific Ocean nor the novel coronavirus could keep these two heroes apart forever. Last month, American Humane carried through on its months-long commitment to reunite U.S. Army Specialist Traveon Gayden with Military Working Dog Tshaar. Both traveled long and far, navigating the roadblocks to Tshaar’s reunification with his good friend and retirement into his forever home.

SPC Gayden, his daughter Leena and MWD Tshaar.

At just 6 years old, MWD Tshaar is notably young for a retired MWD. The Belgian Malinois, trained in bomb detection, developed an unknown skin pathology that inhibited his ability to work. As a result, Tshaar was sidelined from service and put into veterinary care at his base in Korea. While there, Tshaar formed a close bond with his caregiver SPC Gayden, a veterinary technician charged with overseeing our sick hero’s health.

During their time together in Korea, SPC Gayden grew to love the pup’s energetic and goofy personality. According to SPC Gayden, Tshaar won over everyone who interacted with him, becoming the clinic’s de facto “mascot.” When Tshaar’s retirement became official due to his medical conditions, SPC Gayden jumped at the opportunity to adopt his four-legged friend.

Transporting a canine from Korea to the United States, however, is no easy task, so SPC Gayden enlisted American Humane’s help in flying his friend to Biloxi, Mississippi. Our team, which has worked alongside the U.S. military for more than a century, was happy to oblige.

American Humane staff veterinarian Dr. Lesa Staubus with MWD Tshaar.

In late January, MWD Tshaar safely arrived in America but SPC Gayden was prevented from returning stateside. Several events, including the novel coronavirus pandemic, further delayed SPC Gayden in securing a permanent transfer to Biloxi, where he could care for his dog.

American Humane has strategically trained volunteers across the country who regularly deploy with our rescue team and are able to help out on other critical missions as needed. Two such individuals, Stacie and Raydon Leaton from Enid, OK, happily stepped up to the plate and fostered MWD Tshaar for roughly six months while SPC Gayden secured his transfer home. Due to the unique and complex nature of MWD Tshaar’s health, his care involved extensive veterinary checkups and procedures, including removing a mass from his leg that was diagnosed as stage 1 sarcoma.

MWD Tshaar with his foster parents, Stacie and Raydon Leaton.

Thankfully, SPC Gayden has returned stateside and he and MWD Tshaar are finally starting their new journey together. American Humane wishes SPC Gayden and MWD Tshaar nothing but the best. We believe that every hero deserves a happy retirement after their service in defense of freedom.

MWD Tshaar enjoying retirement.

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