It was an emotional reunion for Army private Hannah Foraker and her elderly dog Buddy.
Foraker, 21, left her Ohio home on Sept. 9 to begin basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
It was a big change from her "sheltered" upbringing in Cleveland, she told TODAY.com.
"I have never been away from home before, so this was a huge deal for me," Foraker, who is currently a biomedical equipment specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, said in an email.
Basic combat training was 10 grueling weeks, something Foraker described as one of the hardest things she's ever done in her life.
"It's truly a character building experience and makes you appreciate the little things in life," she said.
Making it harder was the fact that she had to say goodbye to one important family member: her 13-year-old golden retriever and best friend since childhood.
"It pulled at my heartstrings, to say goodbye, though having never actually left home before I didn't realize the importance of giving proper goodbyes," she said.
The two shared an emotional reunion over Christmas, and a video Foraker recently posted of the moment has gone viral, with more than 1.7 million views.
"Buddy was so overwhelmed that she just collapsed in pure happiness,” Foraker said. “We were apart for [more than three] months, so the reunion was such a beautiful experience.”
The joyful meetup was made that much sweeter by the fact that the pair spent most of their time together growing up.
Their excursions included camping, swimming at the beach, makeshift agility courses in the back yard, hiking, walks and car rides just for fun.
When they finally came back together, both Foraker and Buddy could barely contain their excitement.
"She just wanted me to hug her and reaffirm that I was actually there,” the soldier told TODAY.
Buddy is hard of hearing and suffers from arthritis. Both conditions developed over the past year.
Foraker is hopeful the ailments will not affect her chances of seeing Buddy when she returns home again in November.
"Buddy is too elderly to make the trip herself, which I have considered,” she said. “I just have to be patient and pray for her good health and happiness."
In the meantime, she’s been using Skype to catch up with the pup and the rest of her family.
"Even though she doesn't realize what's going on, she feeds off the energetic excitement of the room and my voice through the speaker,” she said. “It's always so sweet when she starts licking the laptop!"