Staff Sergeant Thomas Watkins was reunited with his former K9 colleague, Blek, following his retirement from the armed services. Blek was known amongst handlers as a tough dog to manage before meeting Watkins.
"That was the issue that they were having," Watkins said. "And so my kettle master pulled me in his office and was like, 'Hey, man, I know you're a new handler. But I feel like you're up to this challenge.'"
"We just connected right off the bat," Watkins explained." "We truly understood each other…Another handler was out there with me, and he was like man like, 'I just never seen this dog be so affectionate toward someone.'"
They became a perfect team and were assigned to carry out duties together. "It's such a beautiful experience, especially when you get a dog that has issues…And then you connect with that dog, and you get that dog to where they need to be," Watkins explained. "It's just such an awesome and rewarding experience."
"The rest of the two and a half years that I worked [with] him from deployment to secret service missions all over the world," he continued. "We had no issues whatsoever."
Following Watkins being transferred to a different station, the other handlers struggled to manage Blek. "It wasn't looking good for Blek," said Carlton Isaacson, a former military dog trainer.
This is were Project K-9 Hero stepped in to help! According to their website, they provide "assistance with medical costs, rehabilitation, adoption, food, and end of duty services in order to ensure their best quality of life and give them the retirements they deserve."
Isaacson said the project "was a game changer," adding, "They were able to provide him everything that he needed to be safe." The project allowed Watkins to adopt Blek and provide him a perfect home in retirement.
Watkins said, "I'm so thankful for those guys out there that they were able to take him in and hold him until I got to a place where I can truly take care of him and allow him to just be a dog on his retirement."
On Good Morning America, Watkins was surprised by the organization with news that they would cover all of Blek's food and veterinary supplies for his lifetime!
“I am overwhelmed with happiness. That dog is dear to my heart and he made me the handler and trainer that I am today. ... It looks like [Blek] hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s happy. He looks healthy and I am just glad to be here right now," Watkins continued. "I'm so thankful for that dog, and that's why I'm excited to actually bring him home with me and live out his life."
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