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Owner reunited with two beagles

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | December 24, 2010 8:00 PM

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Daniel Behrens, 2, plays with his father's two beagles Thursday at a foster care provider's home in Hayden.

HAYDEN - Raymond Behrens never thought he would see his beloved beagles again.

It had been six years since the 24-year-old Deary man gave the dogs - a brother and sister named Bullet and Trigger - up to a Boise couple when he enlisted in the Navy.

Earlier this week, finally home in Deary again after a tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan, Behrens was stunned to find his old pooches on the Internet, available for adoption.

"I thought there's no way that can be my dogs. There's no way that's possible," he said.

Behrens made the discovery just as he was settling back into civilian life in a new home in Deary, one he moved into in October with his wife, Kaci, and 2-year-old son Danyole.

Behrens recently started thinking about getting a beagle again after reading about one up for adoption at a Lewiston animal shelter. Behrens called the number in the newspaper ad, but the dog had already been adopted.

Then two days ago he visited petfinders.com, a pet adoption website, and plugged in "beagle" and his zip code.

"Bullet's picture appeared right on the top of the page, and Trigger was right underneath him," Behrens said.

With names, ages and markings that matched those of the dogs he had once owned, Behrens knew they had to be his pups.

He immediately sent an e-mail through the website and was surprised to learn they were being fostered together in the home of a pet rescue volunteer, not far from the Post Falls breeder's home where he had first picked them up in 2002.

"I thought 'this can't be. I gave them to people in Boise,'" he said.

Behrens was a 16-year-old Deary High School student when Bullet and Trigger first came into his life.

"He saw them in the paper and had to have them," said Behrens' mother, Mary Jane Braparazzo.

For the second time in his life, Behrens made the nearly two-hour trek from his Latah County home to pick up the pair of beagles.

With his wife, son and mother in tow, Behrens drove Thursday to the Hayden Lake home of Lynne Nostrant, a Second Chance Pet Rescue foster home volunteer.

Behrens knows Bullet remembers him, and he thinks Trigger does too.

"He was all over me, snuggling," Behrens said. "He put his arms up on my shoulders and just stared eyes-to-eyes at me."

Nostrant has been caring for the beagles since the beginning of November, and has been fostering dogs for Second Chance for three years.

She was all smiles as Behrens got re-acquainted with Bullet and Trigger.

"I think it's very special for this to happen," Nostrant said.

She noted the timing of the dogs' availability for adoption, and how it coincided perfectly with Behrens' return to civilian life in Idaho."What are the chances?" Nostrant said.

The people in Boise who last owned Bullet and Trigger surrendered them to Second Chance Pet Rescue in October, the same month Behrens left the service.

Nostrant said the couple did not want to give them up, but had to because they have a small home, a 2-year-old child, and another on the way.

The couple gave them over to Second Chance Pet Rescue on the condition that the dogs would be kept together.

Nostrant said it's obvious the furry 8-year-old siblings care for each other.

"These two are really gentle souls," she said.

Behrens always hoped the dogs were well cared for, and now he knows they were.

He said they are better trained now than when he was 18 and had to let them go.

"They were crazy. I was always just playing with them," he said. "Now they're completely house-trained. They walk on leashes and don't bark all the time."

He's looking forward to getting the dogs back out in the woods near Deary, the same woods they romped in together years ago.

Another holiday surprise came for Behrens when he learned that an anonymous Second Chance Pet Rescue donor paid the adoption fees for the dogs, $90 per animal, as a thank you for Behrens' service to his country.

Behrens said it was hard for him to surrender the dogs six years ago, but he never forgot them: "I felt so crushed. Now ... wow."

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