VILSECK, Germany -- A dog's devotion to its owner is a wonderful thing. But so too has been the devotion of a pair of Soldiers helping another veteran.
Master Sgt. Patrick Lockett is the owner of the Haus Amberg Shepherds kennel just outside of U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria's Rose Barracks. He and his friend and dog handler, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Smith -- a Soldier assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center out of Hohenfels -- recently made headlines by making the impossible possible.
Marine Corps veteran Garrett J. Carnes lost both legs stepping on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Khan Neshin, Afghanistan.
After learning about Carnes' hardship and his struggle to get a service dog through a veterans administration, Smith and Lockett decided to send Smith's personal dog Unno.
Unno comes from the Haus Amberg Shepherds kennel and is a highly trained and sensitive dog.
Despite Haus Amberg Shepherds wanting to cover all travel expenses, Smith reached out to several media outlets and gained the attention of United Airlines. The airline offered first class travel and covered all travelling expenses for the dog and his handler.
"We were treated like royalty," Lockett said. "There were no lines for us and the dog was on the plane immediately."
Lockett's dedication to his dogs and for others distinguishes him from most business owners. His mission is to educate fellow dog owners on becoming responsible pet owners. His motto is honesty, integrity and hard work -- all reflected in his success as a German Shepherd breeder, trainer and educator.
Locket is the operations noncommissioned officer in charge for 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment stationed in Vilseck. Together he and his wife Alishia own and operate kennels located in Amberg, as well as in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Oklahoma.
Their focus is to breed, compete and train. Lockett mainly trains for the "international pruefungsordnung," or IPO, better known by its former name schutzhund.
Lockett inherited his passion for German Shepherds from his grandfather Johann Eiban, who established the kennel.
In 2013, Lockett returned to Germany and re-established the kennel to continue his late grandfather's legacy. Since then he has not only raised multiple champion breeds, but has committed to educating others on raising their new companions.
Prior to taking a puppy or fully trained dog home, the owner completes an orientation program to learn about general needs of dogs, proper nutrition, training, health insurance and liability insurance. Dog owners are encouraged to take advantage of training classes offered at no charge to military service members and their families.
After years of pet abandonment during PCS moves, the perception of Americans as bad pet owners has haunted Americans here in Germany. Service members, for example, have dropped off their pets at German shelters in the past, causing the shelters to be flooded with unwanted pets.
The poor reputation that follows service members and their families in Germany is a driving factor for the education program, said Lockett.