When Szultan’s current handler sent Staff Sgt. Angela Lowe a message asking if she would be interested in taking him in once he retired, she had not seen her former military dog in four years.
“If a dog is a dog or food-hostile, it can be challenging to place it because some individuals can’t take the dog home”, according to Lowe. “And I had a small amount of worry that he would be put to death.”A unique bond Lowe had a special bond with Szultan because she was the canine’s
first caretaker. He was highly erratic in the beginning, seeking to complete work in his own way and even hurting people. It took a great deal of effort to prepare him for service.“I did make a deal with Szultan. I was like, ‘Hey, look, man. I know you’re grumpy. I need you to not bite me.
Please. I’ll respect you. You respect me. And we will figure this out together,’” said Lowe. “After we did that, we started meshing. I was super proud of him. I absolutely could trust him one hundred percent.”Lowe’s physique unfortunately underwent a lot of stress as a result of the
physical rigors of training military dogs. She began to experience hand issues, frequently dropping the leashes for the dogs. Lowe was forced to retire from the Air Force due to his two spine operations.“Leaving Szultan was really hard for me. You have your pets at home, and of course, you
love them, but it’s different,” she said. “It’s indescribable how bonded you are to your dog. I don’t think I’ll ever have a love for a career like I did with working dogs.”Lowe regularly considered Szultan after leaving the military, frequently wondering how he was doing. To find out more
about him, she messaged other service members. However, she lost contact with them after a while and relocated to Pittsburgh to further her schooling.A chance reunion Lowe was given only two weeks to get Szultan back from Charleston, South Carolina after responding to the
handler that she would be pleased to welcome him into her house. Lowe was unable to make the 10-hour drive from Pittsburgh because she was overburdened with work and school. Instead, she got in touch with Mission K9 Rescue, a charity that facilitates the reunion of military dogs
and their handlers.“Once the dog retires, no matter where they are, they are not considered a military service member anymore. They have become a pet, not a vet,” said Kristen Maurer, president of Mission K9 Rescue. “The military is not allowed to put a pet on a flight, so they’ll ask
us to step in and get the dog.”The goal of the organization is to save, reunite, place, rehabilitate, or repair any retired working dog that has in some way benefited humanity. Over 1,100 dogs have been saved since 2013 and over 540 working dogs and their former handlers have been
reunited.“We are very respectful of what we know they are capable of when it’s a dog that we’ve been advised has some behavioral issues. When I asked Angela if we could fly him, she responded, “No, not a good idea,” Maurer recalled.Instead, the crew traveled from Texas to South
Carolina, picked up Szultan, and then drove the dog to Pittsburgh h in a rental car.Lowe remained outside talking to Maurer while she waited for Szultan to show up. She was thrilled to see the dog she had developed such a deep bond with. A hesitant Szultan walked directly into Lowe’s
warm arms as soon as the truck came up and his carrier door opened. “I realize how terrifying it is. Yes, large dude. She soothed him, “It’s all so new, it’s OK. “Bob, welcome to the pack.”After all the effort Szultan had put in while serving, Maurer wished him a happy retirement. “He needs
to relax on a sofa and enjoy being pampered and adored. Angela will undoubtedly carry it out, she assured.Szultan was more relaxed after their meeting than Lowe had seen him in seven years within a few days.It’s like having a piece of the Air Force with me, she said, having him return so unexpectedly. “I can’t wait for summer so I can go out with my friend Szultan and sit on a patio and have a few drinks.”