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TROUBLESHOOTERS EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Local veteran feels ‘relieved, calm’ after adopting canine he served with overseas

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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) -- A local veteran said he felt whole again, after adopting the canine he trained with overseas.

Former Army Infantry Sergeant Ralph White and his wife Kaylie brought him home after 12 years apart.

"I got an email he's ready to go. They were like 'We can hold him as long as you need us to' and I was like you don't have to wait long because I'm coming this weekend to get him," said White.

During his time with the 82nd Airborne Division, Former Sergeant White joined the Tactical Explosive Detection Dogs Program, or TEDD.

He was assigned to IKAR and said he was told he could adopt the canine when it was time for him to retire.

They were separated after landing in the states.

Former Sergeant White has fought to bring IKAR home ever since and went to Texas over the weekend to be reunited.

IKAR was brought to the hotel where the White's stayed.

"It felt like an eternity. My heart was racing. I felt like I was going to pass out. Just waiting for him and finally I seen them pull up."

11-year-old IKAR jumped out of the car and went right up to Former Sergeant White.

"I was nervous if he was going to even recognize me or just be hesitant and he came up to me and I grabbed his leash and started talking to him. My wife and the other handler, the kennel master, said they both seen his reaction and behavior change like he understood who I was."

Former Sergeant White said he think IKAR remembered his smell or voice.

"He was acting like a puppy again and I think he was reverting to that...He was acting like his old self that I remember."

"Like I told him, I'm old too and we're both broken, but at least now we're together. That's an unbelievable feeling to have him back. I never thought I'd see him again really."

A feeling of support, which was also at the airport as friends, family, and veterans from the Peoria and Rockford area welcomed them home.

"We're all brothers and sisters in arms and I think that just goes to show the depth of th support that we have and the love that we have for our brothers and sisters in uniform both currently and the past," said Glenn Mowder, Chapter Commander of Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Peoria Chapter.

Former Sergeant White added, "He's earned it, like way beyond so much earned it...He saved a lot of guys over there. A lot of buddies I know, me included...I feel like these dogs get put on the back burner."

He said right now U.S. citizens are being evacuated from Afghanistan, but interpreters and dogs are being left behind.

Some aren't military specific and are contracted, but Former Sergeant White wants to help raise awareness for all.

"...Because if no one does anything for these dogs who did so much for us over there they'll be gone and forgotten."

The Former Sergeant said no matter how much time he and IKAR have together every second will be special.

One things for sure is that IKAR will get plenty of hugs, kisses, and treats.

Jessica Cook

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