Soldiers are commonly warned against forming emotional connections with the dogs that they serve alongside in the field. But for one particular sergeant, this direction proved impossible to follow. Yes, thanks to all that he and his dog had been through together, Jason Bos found himself deeply attached to his slobbery sidekick. Unfortunately, though, circumstances meant that the dream team eventually went their separate ways – and yet that wasn’t the end of the tale. Man and dog were ultimately reunited, in fact, and their meeting was a moment that Bos had been looking forward to for years.
The object of Bos’ affections is Cila, a handsome chocolate brown Labrador. Better known to her handler as Cici, the pooch bravely served alongside Bos in Iraq for an impressive five years. It’s perhaps little wonder then that the two formed such an unbreakable bond. Yet although Cici had experienced more things than many humans, it remained to be seen whether she would remember her beloved handler.
Bos and Cici’s spell in Iraq certainly meant that they’d been through some extreme situations together. While on duty, Cici was responsible for sniffing out bombs and helping to prevent potential dangers on the front line. Cici therefore helped safeguard the soldiers from countless dangers using her keen sense of smell.
As one of thousands of dogs on active service, Cici has arguably also visited more places than the average person. Bos even proudly told reporter Leon Hendricks on 24 Hour News 8 about all the countries in which his hound has served. These included Germany and Kuwait as well as Iraq. So it’s fair to say that the pair have probably enjoyed their share of harrowing adventures.
Sadly, though, the duo’s working relationship came to an abrupt halt in 2012 after Bos suffered an injury. The army sergeant was subsequently flown out of Iraq, while Cici continued with her duties in the region. Broken-hearted, the sergeant then returned to his home in Michigan without his cuddly companion. Bos found himself at a loss, like Shaggy without his Scooby-Doo.
Although Bos told 24 Hour News 8 that he and Cici enjoyed a “great relationship,” the dog naturally remained the property of the army. As a result, it looked like the pair would never see each other again. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and some two years later, Bos, now retired from the military, received some encouraging news.
You see, Bos found out that his erstwhile companion was also being retired from the armed forces. It was the glimmer of hope that the ex-soldier had been waiting for. And although it wasn’t certain that Cici would be returned to the States, Bos set about seeing what he could do.
Luckily, help arrived in the form of the American Humane Association and Mission K-9 Rescue. So before long, Cici was headed home to the U.S. – and her master would be there to greet her. Yes, on April 30, 2014, Bos waited patiently at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. But would Cici remember her old handler? The moment of truth had arrived.
Footage of the reunion shows Cici being led through the airport by a man in a hi-vis vest. Then, as soon as Bos shrieks, “Cici!” the dog’s pace quickens, and her paws struggle for grip on the shiny floor surface. Military decorum is cast aside as the separated pair then greet each other like long-lost friends. Cici bounds into Bos’ arms and showers him with slobbery kisses as her tail wags with frantic enthusiasm. The pictures paint a thousand words; Cici’s memory is alive and kicking.
Bos told Hendricks at 24 Hour News 8 about his and Cici’s happy reunion. “I just went to the ground because I knew she was coming at me,” he said. “And I just called her name, and it was awesome!” It was an experience apparently shared by all present, including the equally excited cameramen. “It was pretty amazing,” Bos affirmed.
In his report for 24 Hour News 8, Hendricks described Cici as “a dog that is unknowingly in so many ways extraordinary.” The reporter went on to ask Bos, “Given her skillset, did you have her once-over your home just in case?!” Bos enjoyed the joke and reacted with a chuckle, saying, “No, but that’s funny though!”
On a more serious note, Bos has no plans to make Cici return to work. While the ex-soldier is interested in helping veterans adjust to civilian life, Cici has a life of luxury to look forward to. Bos confirmed that “she’s going to be living the couch life from now on.” That prospect would make any dog’s tail wag!
It doesn’t look like Cici will be on the couch for long, though, as Bos plans to make the most of their time together. Speaking to 24 Hour News 8, Bos told Hendricks about his plans with Cici now that she is back in his life. “I can go wherever I want,” he said. “I can take her wherever I want, and it’s awesome!”
If Cici could speak, she might use the word ‘awesome’ to describe her time with Bos too. In footage from the 24 Hour News 8 report, for instance, the pair show how in sync they are as Bos runs through a series of commands, all of which Cici immediately obeys.
Certainly, “sit” results in the dog doing just that, while “paw” sees Cici offer Bos each of her front legs in turn. Cici’s loyalty is plain to see, something that Hendricks certainly picked up on. “Now [Cici] will focus on what she seems to enjoy doing the most; being man’s best friend. His best friend,” the reporter said.
Of course, Bos and Cici’s story isn’t the first time that a military animal has been reunited with a former colleague. Another example was that of Tracy McKithern, a reserve sergeant in the U.S. Army, and her dog Erby. While serving in Iraq as a combat photographer, McKithern came across a white stray dog whom she “fell in love with” instantly. The hound was covered in scratches, but McKithern and her colleagues took care of her until she was fit and healthy again. However, it wasn’t in the plan to send Erby back to the U.S. with McKithern.
But that was before Puppy Rescue Mission stepped in. Funds were subsequently raised to fly Erby to the U.S., but then McKithern was suddenly returned to active duty. So while the pooch landed on American soil, her new owner jetted off on another mission. Thankfully, this deployment was a short one, and when McKithern returned 67 days later, she was greeted by a familiar face. You see, Erby was waiting for her at Tampa International. And just like Cici, Erby hadn’t forgotten her soldier!
The airport filmed the tender moment that the pair were brought together once again. The video shows Erby held back on a leash, standing steady until McKithern shows up. The soldier then drops to her haunches, and Erby showers her with snuffles and kisses, eventually knocking McKithern off her knees. Sharing the moment with the world on Twitter, McKithern wrote, “I think the reason we’re born with two hands is so we can pet two dogs at once.”
Both videos of the reunions received incredible receptions on social media. Commenting on the Cici footage, one user wrote, “This joy is what they both deserve. Thank you for serving for our country.” Erby’s story also encouraged widespread adoration, with one comment saying, “So glad you and Erby are both home safely. She is a beautiful dog. Thanks to you and others who rescue such animals.”
For now, Cici and Bos are enjoying being back together again. As the old adage goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and for this dynamic duo that couldn’t be truer. Judging by the scenes of unbridled joy and affection evident on the homecoming video, it’s safe to say that Cici and her owner are living a blissful existence back home in Michigan. Talk about friends for life!