NC veteran’s missing service dog found thanks to runner

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WFMY) – The Triad service dog that had been missing for three days has been found safe. You can call it a Thanksgiving miracle.

Sgt. Thomas Hunter II and his dog Eyre (WFMY)
Sgt. Thomas Hunter II and his dog Eyre (WFMY)

A pre-Thanksgiving run was all Eric Coulter had planned for the afternoon. But what he got was so much more.

The pastor from Illinois is visiting family in Davidson County. Before his run, a relative explained a sign they’d seen about a missing dog. “It was a Golden Retriever, that it was some kind of trained dog that it was unusual for a dog that was trained to just be gone,” remembered Coulter.

Near the end of his run, a dog appeared near the edge of the woods. “This has got to be it,” Coulter said to himself.

“Called to it and the dog came to me after a couple seconds to come over and let me pet it. I noticed he wouldn’t come with me to walk home so I had to pick him up and take him up.”

He carried the dog half a mile home and immediately called the number on the sign. Thomas Hunter picked up. “I asked what collar it had and if it had the birth mark tongue,” said Hunter.

“He said ‘check his tongue, does he have the birth mark on his tongue’ and I said ‘he’s got the birth mark!” said Coulter.

Hunter, a wounded veteran, raced over to the house to confirm what he’d been hoping for since Sunday. “I was ecstatic, I was happy to find him.”

A three-day search finally over with the help of an unexpected stranger.

“Thankful for God for answering my prayers,” said Hunter. “He just happened to send a pastor to find him.”

A discovery that could very well lead to a better life for this veteran who suffers from PTSD. A service dog that’ll eventually give him a chance to lead a more normal life.

“It looks brighter, much, much brighter.”

Sergeant Thomas Hunter II was paired with Eyre after finding Patriot Rovers, a High Point nonprofit that trains service dogs for wounded veterans.

Eyre is named after Corporal Michael Eyre Thompson who was killed in Iraq in 2008.

Hunter served his country for eight years with four deployments including two in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hunter said Eyre was out playing on Sunday when the dog got spooked. Eyre ran away after being caught off guard by an aggressive dog.

Eyre still has a couple more months of training at Patriot Rovers. Once he’s finished, he’ll help keep Hunter calm and even wake him from nightmares or bring him out of flashbacks from his time in war.

Patriot Rovers gave the pastor a $5,000 reward for finding the dog. It’s a small price to pay considering it costs more than $20,000 to train a dog like this.

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