A photo of a dog with a purple heart on his collar has a touching story behind it.
Specialist Andrew Brown and his military canine, Rocky, have been working together for two years, ABC News reports. In October, they were sent to Afghanistan, and two months after their arrival, they were both wounded by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device (IED) while examining a compound.
After the incident, they were sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where they both received the revered Purple Heart award. Rocky’s heart was proudly displayed on his collar while he recovered in the hospital alongside his handler.
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(Rocky the dog in the hospital with a Purple Heart on his collar. Photo Credit: 89th Military Police Brigade/Facebook)
“Rocky and his handler are staying in the same room right now as they are receiving treatment for their injuries,” reads the caption that the 89th Military Police Brigade wrote for Rocky’s Facebook photo on Dec. 9. The photo had been shared over 200,000 times as of Dec. 16.
“Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they recover during the holiday season," the caption continued.
“The bond between working dog and handler is something you cannot explain or understand unless you have experienced it,” a Facebook user commented. “I am so glad Rocky is being cared for and given the same respect as his handler.”
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(Andrew Brown with Rocky in the hospital. Photo Credit: 89th Military Police Brigade/Facebook)
Brown told ABC News that Rocky deserves the credit. Since Rocky is considered a solider, his rank as a dog is one above that of his handler.
"He does everything," Brown said. "I'm just really a guy with a leash. I bring him to the area and let him do his thing. If he responds, I translate that ... let them know my dog got a response right here. I know the way he works, I know his change of behavior.”
Brown arrived to Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11, where he was reunited with his family. Rocky, currently in Germany awaiting more surgeries, is expected to return to Fort Hood within a few weeks, according to the Brigade's Dec. 11 update on Facebook.
Brown has possession of both Purple Hearts for the time being while they both prepare for their respective surgeries, ABC notes. He has faith that his loyal dog is in good spirits as they recover on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
"Dogs are just resilient like that," he told ABC.