By Julia Williams
I recently came across a wonderful story online that intrigued me. I wanted to know more, so I did what any curious pet blogger would do – I searched until I found a phone number, and then I called it. I had a pleasant conversation with 24-year-old Raymond Behrens, who happily gave me an update on one of the best “feel-good” doggie tales ever.
When Raymond enlisted in the Navy at the age of 18, he was deeply saddened to leave his best friends Bullet and Trigger behind. Raymond had adopted the Beagle puppies two years earlier. He loved his dogs with all of his heart, but because none of his family members or friends could care for them while he was in the Navy, Raymond reluctantly gave them up. As you might guess, this scenario is all too common, and is what led to the creation of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet (GASP). This wonderful nonprofit helps find foster families for pets of deployed military members; unfortunately, Raymond didn’t have that option in 2004.
Raymond thought about his best friends often over the next six years, while serving as a Navy Seabee in Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Like any devoted pet parent would, he felt guilty for giving up his dogs; he wondered how they were doing, and hoped they were happy and healthy. Although he never forgot about Bullet and Trigger, he didn’t expect to see them again or have them be a part of his family. Yet six long years later, that is exactly what happened!
Once out of the service, Raymond settled into civilian life in Idaho with his wife and infant son. They even had a dog, a Rottweiler mix named Max. But Max was more his wife’s dog, and Raymond wanted a canine buddy that was as devoted to him as Max was to her. So one day he logged onto the animal adoption site petfinder.com and typed in “beagle” and his zip code.
Imagine his shock when two photos came up of dogs that looked exactly like Bullet and Trigger. “There’s no way those could be my dogs,” he initially thought. But the names and ages were the same, and the dogs were brother and sister, just like his had been. Still, it took comparing the online photos to some of his own before Raymond was convinced it really was his old pals.
Raymond immediately made arrangements to re-adopt his dogs. They were being fostered a few hours away by Lynn Nostrant, a volunteer for Second Chance Pet Rescue. Raymond wasn’t sure if his dogs would remember him, but he now believes they did. “Bullet came right up to me and put his paws on my shoulders.”
Nostrant said the couple who had Bullet and Trigger for six years didn’t want to give them up, but felt they had to because they had a small home, a 2-year-old child, and another on the way. They surrendered them with stipulations that they be adopted out together. Personally, I can’t think of any reason I’d be willing to give up a pet after having them in my life for six years, but I don’t know this couple, so I won’t judge. It’s obvious the dogs were loved and well cared for; according to Raymond, they’re also better trained.
It’s been a few months since Bullet and Trigger went to live in their new home, and Raymond said they’ve settled right in. “It’s like they have never been gone. They follow me everywhere I go, and if I go outside they wait at the door for me to come back in,” he said. They are the same loving dogs he remembers, but Raymond said one thing surprised him. “Their personalities have swapped. The girl (Trigger) used to be the wild one and the boy was more timid.” Now, Bullet is the boisterous one, and he’s always up for playing with his stuffed toy, while Trigger is more relaxed.
Remember Max, the family’s other dog? After an initial adjustment period, Raymond said Max gets along well with both Beagles. In fact, although Bullet and Trigger are still very close and will lick each other and lie down together, Trigger seems to favor sleeping with Max!
Don’t you just love that Raymond found his best friends again, after all those years apart?
Photo by Jesse Tinsley: AP/The Spokesman-Review
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