PALMYRA, N.Y. (WROC) — Earl was a bomb-sniffing dog who helped find enemy explosive devices in Afghanistan, protecting our troops. The 15-year-old Labrador had a final procession down Route 31 in the Village of Palmyra Wednesday, before being put to rest.

Earl was alongside his Marine Corps owner Brad O’Keefe overseas before the two were reunited nine years ago. The dog survived several IED explosions in Afghanistan and later helped Brad with that all-important transition from active duty to civilian life.

Their bond was extremely strong: the bond between Marine and man’s best friend.

Brad’s wife, Kara, says having Earl in the house allowed Brad to move forward in life, sensing his anxiety and sadness — serving as a sort of therapeutic presence.

“He did two tours in Afghanistan,” she said. This little pooch survived several IED explosions and saved so many lives, including Brad’s, and then he served in the Rhode Island State Police Department, and has been with us ever since.”

“He’s always just been real easy going,” Brad said. “No matter what’s going on I know I can count on him to be there.”

Samantha Wilson with the Wayne County Veteran Service Agency helped Brad after service. She spoke on the importance of dogs downrange. 

“As a veteran myself, we can’t complete the mission without those added resources like Earl,” said Wilson.

Brad says even with years in the Corps under his belt, Wednesday was one of his toughest days. “It was always nice being able to come home and just know that my buddy who had my back in Afghanistan is still here with me,” he said.

Earl was put to rest just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at home in Brad’s arms.