Indiana veteran finally gets to adopt military dog 5 years after they served together

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

CULVER, Ind. – An Indiana veteran who spent the past five years trying to reunite with his military dog is finally back with her for good.

Joe Steenbeke, 28, just adopted Tess, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Steenbeke is a former Army TEDD (Tactical Explosive Detector Dog) handler. He served in Afghanistan from May 2012 to February 2013 with Tess R533, his bomb-sniffing partner

At the end of the program, Tess was converted to a Patrol Explosive Detection Dog (PEDD). Steenbeke only had a few minutes to say goodbye to Tess before she went on to serve for the Connecticut National Guard.

Steenbeke has been desperately trying to reunite with Tess since then. 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 retired, and on January 23, they found out Tess was officially their dog.

The recently retired canine will now live out the rest of her life with a family who loves her.

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