XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) - A war veteran is bonding with his new service dog from "4 Paws for Ability."
The group is well known for training dogs for children with disabilities.
In fact, the matchup between the German Shepherd and this soldier wasn't supposed to happen.
Captain Jake Murphy and his wife, Lisa, are welcoming a new member to their family.
Gabriel trained at 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia.
Jake lost both legs nearly two years ago.
"Went out on patrol, Afghanistan, stepped on an improvised explosive device, an IED," said Capt. Jake Murphy.
A fellow soldier, Derek McConnell, pulled Jake to safety.
|Photos: In memory of Sgt. Derek McConnell|
A few hours later, Derek lost his legs after he stepped on an IED.
"It's been a very long road, but I've made a lot of progress."
Jake was released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center just two days ago.
Derek's injuries were more severe. He died in March.
Monday was Jake's first day with Gabriel, who will help him recover from a traumatic brain injury and help steady his gait.
Gabriel's four legs do what Jake's two prosthetic ones can't.
"It should be a great experience, I'm very excited."
Over the next two weeks in Xenia, Jake and Gabriel will learn to be partners.
But, it is a partnership that wasn't supposed to happen.
Karen Shirk and her team were training gabriel for someone else.
"Derek and I had gotten quite close, texting back and forth while he was waiting to come," said Karen Shirk, 4 Paws for Ability Executive Director.
Gabriel was supposed to be matched with Derek McConnell, the soldier who saved Jake's life.
"The dog that was meant for the man that rescued his life, yes," said Shirk.
When McConnell died, 4 Paws went looking for another soldier who needed Gabriel and they found Jake.
"It was mixed emotions. I was excited to get a dog myself, but I still mourned Derek's loss and it's a tragic situation."
"I think Derek is probably up there, smiling, waiting to see Jake get his dog today," said Shirk.
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