**This story has since been featured on Love What Matters and Ellen DeGeneres Nation**
Sergeant Hottie; I had the pleasure of meeting this girl shortly after she retired from the Marine Corps. I was honored to photograph this time in her life for Leslie and Chais. <3
In August 2008, Chais joined the Marine Corps. He served our country from August 2008 to August of 2012. In 2011, Chais met Hottie, a black Labrador retriever, who would soon become his IED bomb sniffing partner, companion, and fellow Marine. Chais was her first handler and the two went on their first deployment together in Afghanistan that year for 7 months. It was Chais' second deployment in Afghanistan and Hottie's first. Hottie had two confirmed IED finds while on the tour, which saved the lives of Chais and several of his Marine Corps brothers. Chais was discharged from the Marine Corps in 2012 as Lance Corporal. Hottie completed another tour with a Marine who is unknown at this time. Chais was contacted three years from their deployment that Hottie was being retired as a Sergeant and would be available for adoption. Since Chais was her first handler, he had first choice. This was a no brainer for him. He traveled to North Carolina August of 2014 to be reunited, it was as if the two were never separated. Hottie has completed Chais and his family and has been forever spoiled for her service. She is the best big "sissy" to Chais' 2.5 year old son and has been the best protector of him. Hottie turned 8 this year and has become ill. On July 28th, 2017, the family found out that Hottie has huge masses in her lungs. After several tests, the doctor diagnosed her with insulinomna (Pancreatic Cancer.) She also battles mega esophagus meaning she has to eat in a chair. Hottie has been through war, but cancer will be her biggest battle yet. She will not go down without a fight and Leslie states, "we will be fighting beside her the whole way."
Keep Hottie and her family in your thoughts and prayers during this time.