I love hearing about good things happening to those who've stood at the front lines to protect us. This is one of those stories.

During his deployment in Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Brad O’Keefe was paired with a bomb-sniffing dog named Earl and the two couldn’t have been closer. In fact, if it wasn’t for Earl, Brad probably wouldn’t be here today.  During a patrol in 2010, Earl alerted Brad and his fellow troops to a bomb, but before they could get away the bomb went off.

Brad and thirteen other men were severely injured in the blast, but things probably would have been MUCH worse if Earl hadn’t given the guys a heads up.

After the explosion, Brad had no idea where his dog went, but Earl actually ran five miles back to base where he waited for his master’s return. Unfortunately, Brad never came back, and had to undergo seven surgeries before being sent home to Rochester.  But happy for us the story doesn’t end here.

After hearing about Earl, Brad’s sister Rachel was determined to reunite her brother with the dog that saved his life. She asked for help in spreading the word on Facebook and eventually found out the dog was in Rhode Island, where he had a new master, Trooper Damien Maddox with the Rhode Island State Police. The officer didn’t think twice about reuniting the soldier with his dog. 

“I knew what had to be done as soon as she told me the story,” said Trooper Maddox.  And Brad certainly is grateful to the department and to officer Maddox.  "I am sure it wasn't easy for them to just hand away somebody they have been with for a few months," he said. "They left it to the decision of the trooper who had Earl and Trooper Maddox was just, this is the right thing to do." No doubt!