Indiana Veteran To Soon Be Forever Reunited With Dog He Served With In Afghanistan

Rob Hart
January 25, 2019 - 12:04 pm

Photo provided by Stepahnie Steenbeke


CULVER, Ind. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An Army Veteran from Northern Indiana is a week away from an emotional reunion with an old friend.

Joseph Steenbeke lives in Culver, Indiana, which is near South Bend.  He served alongside Tess, the bomb stiffing dog in Afghanistan.  But, he hasn't seen the Belgian Malinois since his tour of duty ended in 2013.

Steenbeke said he's spent the past five years working to adopt Tess.  He said they had a special relationship. He has her ID number tattooed on his arm.

"Friendship and teamwork down to its very core where I had to do my best to keep her alive and she did her best to keep me alive," he said.

Steenbeke credits the small army of people, including Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, for moving his adoption request through the federal bureaucracy.

He said he's going to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas next Friday to pick her up, and bring Tess to her new home in Indiana.

"Over the past couple of days since we've gotten all this news and updates and the official 'she's retired,' honestly it feels like the last couple of days have been like an out of body experience," Steenbeke said

Photo provided by Stephanie Steenbeke

What does Steenbeke have planned once Tess is home?

"Give her a couple tennis balls that I saved that she used to play with in Afghanistan and just loving up on her as much as possible," he said.