Marine and service dog reunited after six years apart

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- You know you've got a true friend when, after six years apart, you can pick up right where you left off.

"He's got a little more gray than he did then," laughed Marine Sergeant James Leschber.

Sgt. Leschber first met his military working dog, Astor, while serving at San Diego's Miramar air station. For four years, they patrolled the station together, looking for drugs and illegal activity.

"I was his first handler when he got to Miramar," explained Sgt. Leschber. "After that, I handled multiple other dogs. I deployed to Iraq with an explosive dog for about ten months."

Sgt. Leschber and Astor lost touch after that.

But when Astor recently retired from service, volunteers from Mission K9 Rescue found Sgt. Leschber and proposed an adoption. The United States War Dogs Association and the Petco Foundation also helped make it happen.

"They have a bond that we don't understand, so when they're separated, a piece of them goes away," said Kristen Maurer, with Mission K9 Rescue. "We feel like it's our duty to help them get back together."

Astor now has a new home.

But, this time, his only job is to relax.

"Here is a dog that has spent his entire life fighting and he gets to take a break and be pampered," said Sgt. Leschber's wife, Carly Leschber.

"He gets to just be a regular, normal dog," Sgt. Leschber added.
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