Coincidence or Fate? Service Dog Links Two Soldiers

Jake Murphy’s service dog Gabriel was originally intended for his brother in arms Derek McConnell.
Photo via 4 Paws

Two years ago, the lives of U.S. Army soldiers Jake Murphy and Derek McConnell became forever linked. After an exploding IED cost Jake both of his legs, Derek pulled him to safety where the two remained until medical help arrived. Only hours later, McConnell suffered an identical injury. Both double-leg amputees, the two men were brought together again during their rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center. Sharing more than just their injury, they each indicated a strong desire for a service dog to assist with their recovery. Sadly, one night in March, Derek died unexpectedly from complications related to his injuries. While Murphy mourned the loss of his friend, he had no idea that the service dog he was about to receive would further strengthen his bond with McConnell.

“Before his passing, McConnell had been accepted by Xenia, Ohio organization, 4 Paws For Ability, to receive a service dog. Derek’s intended dog, Gabriel, had already completed his training and the two were scheduled to meet in the coming weeks. A search ensued to find another soldier who would be a good match for Gabriel and his recently trained set of skills. Amazingly, the same people who identified Derek McConnell as a 4 Paws candidate, found their way to Jake Murphy’s door. In an incredible twist of fate, Jake would now be the one to inherit the service dog originally intended for his brother in arms; the same man that pulled him to safety on that fateful July day in 2011”.

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Gabriel now assists Jake with ambulation and regaining his independent living style. Through it all he remains close by Jake’s side, just as his friend Derek had two years earlier.

Jake Murphy serving in Afghanistan prior to his injury.
Photo via 4 Paws

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