It’s not uncommon for those who served to say they owe their life to a brother-in-arms, but Marine Lance Corporal Jeff DeYoung doesn’t say he owes his life to a human comrade — he says he owes his life to a black Labrador Retriever.
When DeYoung got the chance to reunite with the bomb-sniffing Lab, Cena, he said it was like, “all my Christmases rolled into one.”
DeYoung and Cena had served together in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, WCPO-TV reported, where the black Lab sniffed out improvised explosive devices ahead of Marines.
Both DeYoung and his wife told WXYZ-TV that if Cena hadn’t been around to detect roadside bombs, DeYoung likely would have never made it back to the United States.
DeYoung, a Michigan native, hadn’t seen Cena in four years when he learned that Cena had suffered a hip injury and would be retired — and DeYoung jumped at the chance to adopt the dog.
The two were reunited at the Detroit Metro airport on Thursday.
DeYoung expressed excitement that Cena seemed to remember him, and DeYoung’s wife, Lindsay, told the Detroit Free Press that she thinks having the dog around will do her husband good.
“I know when (DeYoung) got back, he had a lot of separation issues,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really good for him.”
She noted, however, that things will be crowded in the DeYoung household; Cena joins a growing family that includes the husband and wife, two small kids and a third child on the way.
Featured image via WXYZ-TV
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter