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Marine Veteran Opens a Pup-alicious Christmas Present [Video]

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Christmas came early for 26-year-old Marine Veteran Peter Coukoulis, from Tallahassee, Florida, when his family surprised him with a sweet little Beagle puppy. The shelter that the pup was rescued from had been calling her “Willa” because she seemed to have the will to live, and the Peter’s family thought that was the perfect pet for him.

Peter joined the Marine Corps when he was just 18-years-old, and in that time, he was deployed to the violently dangerous Helmand Province in Afghanistan. During the seven months he was stationed there, he saw many traumatic war events that left lasting effects, specifically an incident in which Peter’s unit lost a beloved bomb-detecting dog and his fellow Marine when they were killed by an IED. Obviously, that left a scar on Peter’s heart, and his mother, Dena, who gave him the dog, said that his life changed in that moment.

Related: Canine Heroes Help US Veterans with Brain Injuries

Peter left the Marine Corps three years ago, but Dena is worried daily that Peter could be one of the 22 veterans a day who end their lives because of the pain of PTSD, so she knew she had to get him a puppy before Christmas.

Growing up, Peter had a beagle named Jackie, who he adored, but sadly died while he was at war. His family told him she’d died while he was gone the day he returned home, and so they knew that the sweet little beagle gal would quickly and easily find her way into Peter’s heart.

Which is exactly what happened! One of Peter’s family members filmed as they presented the wrapped box to Peter, and once Peter realized the moving, yippy box had a puppy in it, his face melted into tears of disbelief. As he held the puppy, which he’s yet to name, (though family says he’s leaning toward ‘Jenny’ after the character Jenny in ‘Forrest Gump’) she gave him lots of baby doggie licks and Peter happily returned with little kisses on the beagle’s nose while the tears of joy freely fell.

Related: Paws For Veterans Trains Rescue Dogs To Help Heroes With PTSD

Since Peter left the Corps, he’s been working hard to reintegrate into civilian life, though he’s still traumatized by many of the events he saw and was a participant to while in Afghanistan. Being a the wife of a Marine who spent a year in Afghanistan myself, I know the effects of what these brave men and women see is life-changing.

I won’t lie. I cried a little (okay, a lot!) watching Peter and his new girl, and knowing how she will help her new Daddy rebuild the life he so deserves after his sacrifice and service. I mean, his face when she gives him sweet kisses for the first time?  Can’t. Even.


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