Indiana soldier will adopt military dog 5 years after serving together in Afghanistan


Photo of U.S. Army veteran Joe Steenbeke with military dog Tess in Afghanistan (Credit: Reunite Joe and Tess, Facebook)

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CULVER, Ind. – An Indiana soldier will get to reunite with his military dog five years after they served together in Afghanistan.

Joe Steenbeke, 28, is a former Army TEDD (Tactical Explosive Detector Dog) handler. He served in Afghanistan from May 2012 to February 2013 with his military working dog, Tess R533.

At the end of the program, Tess, who is 10 years old, was converted to a Patrol Explosive Detection Dog (PEDD), and she is still working for the Connecticut National Guard.

Steenbeke has been desperately trying to reunite with Tess for the past six years. He told The South Bend Tribune that his PTSD lingers, and he’s “constantly going through a huge emotional roller coaster” without her.

Steenbeke and his wife filed adoption papers last year in hopes of getting ownership of Tess once she retires.

This week they finally received the good news they’ve been desperately waiting for: Tess is coming home to them. She officially belongs to the Steenbeke family.

“The day we thought would never come is finally here,” Steenbeke said.

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