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U.S. Troops Reunite With Their Canine Friends From Afghanistan

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- There was an emotional reunion on Wednesday for U.S. troops and the dogs they grew to love while deployed in Afghanistan.

CBS 2'S Cindy Hsu was at John F. Kennedy Airport, where the stray dogs finally made it home.

The hugs and smiles said it all. U.S. troops were reunited with the stray dogs they found in Afghanistan.  Petty Officer Zachary Henning was deployed for a year, but it wasn't a true homecoming until Gus made it.

"I've been home for 2 months and I've been waiting for him ever since," Henning said. "He helped me survive out there and now I'm going to give him a home and allow him to survive now."

Specialist Sheila Schaffer said the stray dogs give nothing but love and that's how they're saving lives.

"It's not always saving from an IED or a bomb. A lot of time with soldiers, we have a lot who commit suicide from depression, it's saving our spirits too. It doesn't have to be a physical save, it's a spiritual save," Schaffer said.

Sergeant Pen Farthing is a former British Marine and adopted his dog Nowzad while serving in Afghanistan. He says the Taliban banned people from having dogs as pets.

"If it's a male dog it may be used for dog fights, if not it's just discarded on the street and may then just fight for scraps," Farthing said.

So he started the animal rescue group called Nowzad that tries to save animals in Afghanistan and reunite them with service men and women throughout the world when the troops return home.

Sergeant Adam Riniker says his dog, "Freedom," will now live a life of freedom.

"I do a lot of hunting and we live on a couple farms so she'll probably do a lot of running and I have another dog that she'll be running around and playing with," he said.

After knowing only a life of war, they're now headed home.

It would normally cost about $4,000 to get a pet from Afghanistan to New York, but Wednesday, American Airlines donated the flight flying in 14 dogs.

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