Sgt. Aaron Crowell grew up in Florida at the sides of two German Shepherds, and since then he has always been an avid dog lover. He traveled the world in his youth and was forced to part ways with those two, but his love for dogs only grew from there. Not only did they serve as loyal and loving companions, but they shared in his passion for the outdoors — be it hunting deep in the woods or just running around with family and playing with the dogs.

He would go on to join the U.S. Army Reserves, serving as a mechanic attached to a Special Forces group. They deployed to Iraq, and Aaron left behind a wife and his own six-year-old German Shepherd in the United States, waiting for his return.

It was in Iraq where Aaron would meet Arlo.

On deployment, Aaron described a cargo ramp from which planes would get loaded and unloaded. The supply sergeant was looking around for a pallet of materials that they had ordered, and Aaron noticed a dog on the ground trying to get some sleep. He took a picture of her and moved on with his daily business. “Not once did I think she had puppies,” he told me in an interview.