Sergeant Kevin Maine said all he wanted for Christmas was his 2-year-old boxer back.
"He's my first dog. I got him while I was on my second deployment," he said. "I came home from my leave and got the dog and had to go back overseas to Iraq. I came home, and he was just my best friend, best dog ever."
He says his ex-wife kept Rowdy during the divorce and moved to Colorado, but almost a year later, he says she asked if he could take the dog back. But he says he didn't have the leave time, or the budget to travel.
"I was like, how are we going to get Rowdy back?" said Kathy Smith, Maine's mother. "Are we going to drive out there? Can we fly him back? And after checking into it, it just wasn't possible."
She turned to her contacts and social media for help. And the answer came in the form of the Kindred Hearts animal transport, a network of volunteers who shuttle dogs around the country.
"The response was so overwhelming because the request was to get a soldier his dog back for Christmas. That's all he wanted, and they made it happen."
She says the fact that that was his only wish made her work harder to retrieve Rowdy because she wasn't going to miss an opportunity to see her son receive his Christmas gift in person.
"So many Christmases I've had to send packages to Iraq, and it's important to me to just have my son home."
Maine will head back to Fort Benning after the holidays, but he says thanks to the kindness of strangers, his joy will last far beyond Christmas.
"You separate a man from his dog, its like taking his best friend away," said Maine. "It's going to be nice to come home every day to meet him at the door with his tail wagging."
Kindred Hearts Animal Transport Connection has a network of volunteers on Facebook.