Staff Sgt. Reunites With Rescued Dog Post Deployment
By Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 12, 2015
5/14/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- -- It's a time of celebration when a service member comes home from deployment and for one staff sergeant it also included a surprise reunion with a dog she rescued in Kuwait.
Staff Sgt. Arin Vickers had already adopted her terrier mix puppy, Bandit, had raised the money fly him back to the states with the help of a nonprofit charity called Puppy Rescue mission, and found a foster home for him until she returned.
But she didn't know exactly how or when she would see him or how he would react when introduced to another dog she owns--one she rescued while in England whose name is Baxter.
All that came together May 6 when her mother, Mindy Peterson-Burns, and friend, Sheila Ford, coordinated to have Baxter greet her at the airport's USO and the next day surprise her with local news coverage of when she would see Bandit again for the first time since being home.
Vickers' reunion with Bandit went picture perfect, and because the new canine brothers had been previously socialized, they immediately started playing with each other upon their initial meeting.
"I know Baxter will adjust just fine, he's been with multiple foster homes, and I think for him to be alone is more of an adjustment for him. With Bandit, it will just take time for his adjustment, but since he's playing like he is, I don't think he'll have any problems," said Vickers, who is assigned to the 435th Supply Chain Operations Squadron.
"I kept thinking everything was going to fall apart, that there would be some hiccup to would prevent me from getting Bandit home," she explained, "and to see everything come around and get him home is wonderful."
It wasn't without its difficulties, but she has friends to thank for the positive outcome. Friends such as Tyler Clay, 375th Medical Operations Squadron, and his wife, Edna Pizano, who stepped up to care for Bandit until she returned.
Vickers said they played a huge part in getting him socialized and giving him attention.
Pizano said, "It's been nice having him, and I spent the most time with him, but Bandit really loves Tyler." They both agreed that the past few months have made it that much harder to let go of Bandit.
"It'll be sad to see him go, he's my little guy," said Clay. "We trained him to do tricks like letting us know when he needs to go out, play 'dead', and sit. There's no better way to help somebody out than to take care of their pet for them."
Vickers knows how easy it is to get attached to a personality like Bandit's, since she fell for him after finding him abandoned on the side of the road in Kuwait. When she first took him in on her deployment, she said he was so playful and then would tire out quickly and curl up and take a nap. She said it helped with morale over there since "you couldn't help but smile after seeing his cute, scruffy face."
"I know Edna and Tyler are going to be pretty sad to let him go, because they got attached to him," said Vickers, "and of course they are welcome to see him whenever they want for the dog park or to get some scruffy puppy love. I'm grateful they took Bandit in, otherwise he wouldn't be here."
She also credits her pet rescue family--a community of people who care about the welfare of animals.
"Once you get into pet rescue, it never leaves you," she said. "I'm incredibly grateful that this has worked out and that I'm home now with these two guys. We have a lot of catching up to do."