By Dr. Robin Ganzert
It was a dream come true for hero dog and hero soldier. Thanks to Don Grommet’s personal mission to right a wrong for his son, a hero in the War on Terror, Military Working Dog (MWD) Matty is now at home in Missouri, with his battle buddy, Specialist Brent Grommet, reunited after more than a year apart. I am also humbled that American Humane Association was able to play a part in making this reunion happen. American Humane Association has helped numerous warrior dog handlers reunite with their battle buddies over the last year, but this reunion was extra special because lots of work and effort went into it. After working with so many veterans to help them reunite with their beloved dogs, you come to understand just how important and meaningful those relationships are to these men and women. It’s about compassion, caring, and healing via the strong bonds formed under dangerous circumstances.
The journey home
Don and I were introduced through the VFW, and I offered resources to help find Matty. His son Brent and Matty went to war together. Then, upon returning to the U.S., after being wounded in an explosion, Brent and Matty were unceremoniously separated. Brent felt certain he would be able to reclaim Matty because he had submitted adoption papers. However, due to bureaucratic error, and/or negligence, another party adopted Matty. We reached out to the local community where the adoption occurred, and publically announced that we’d offer the family who adopted Matty a generous offer to return him to Brent. We waited weeks and weeks, and no one called. But following national media coverage and being on VFW Radio (it was their number one story in all of 2014), the family eventually came forward and made this reunion possible.
I had the honor of joining Brent, Matty, Don, and his wife Debbie in North Carolina right after they were reunited, where a few tears of joy were shared.
It’s about father love, too
The reunion of Brent and Matty is more than the story of a young man’s love for a dog. It is also the story of a father’s love for his son. Without the dedication and perseverance of Brent’s father, Don, none of this would ever have been possible. The family that originally adopted Matty did the right thing by turning him over to the Grommets, which is a value we surely need to instill in our young ones.
Working with Brent and Don to help make their dream a reality has been a true blessing for me and American Humane Association. But, our work is not yet over. Now begins the effort to make sure stories like Brent Grommet’s never happen again. We are working with members of Congress to pass legislation—which we call “Matty’s Wish”—that gives our two- and four-legged veterans the respect they deserve and also honors the relationship our two-legged veterans have with their four-legged brothers-in-arms. These bonds are forged in the fires of war. Both solider and dog deserve to be honored and respected when these warriors return home.
Dr. Robin Ganzert is the President and CEO of American Humane Association. She hosts a weekly radio show “Be Humane with Dr. Robin Ganzert,” on Pet Life Radio, and authored, Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors