They are called man's best friend for a reason, and wait each day for their owners to return. Now, two very patient dogs in East Tennessee finally get to see their "dad" after a long absence.
Earlier this month, U.S. Air Force Major Kevin Cook returned from a four month long deployment -- just the latest in a string of deployments during his 19 years of service. Based in Florida, Cook serves in the 34th Special Operations Squadron. He cannot say where he was deployed, but calls it an "Overseas Contingency Operation."
He also couldn't take his dogs, Indigo and Ruby, with him.
"There's just not a whole lot of support network for dogs in the military," he said. "For a long time, that service just wasn't there. And I couldn't believe it when i actually looked online."
Before his last trip, Cook learned about Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit program that provides foster care for military pups. Cook connected with East Tennessee dog-lover Katie Brown.
"I just saw a posting on Facebook of these two beautiful dogs, and I knew, I just wanted to be able to give back to those troops because they give up so much for us," Brown said.
During his time away, Cook received pictures and updates from his pets thanks to Brown. When Ruby turned seven years old in her owner's absence, Brown threw her a birthday party.
Cook said every update from home helps make his deployment easier.
"I think any little piece of home helps. It gets very tedious over there, you know," he said.
"They've been with me a long time, they've been with me through a divorce, they kind of carried me through that -- kind of a my shoulders to lean on, so to speak," Cook said. "But they're good pups and they're great to come home to every time."
To learn more about Dogs on Deployment, and how you can get involved, visit their website.