(USA Today) -- Retired Air Force Technical Sgt. David Simpson retired last year, while his German shepherd, Robby, remained in service, reports FOX13 in Tampa.
When Simpson found out Robby was retiring, he flew to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to adopt the dog and bring him to his home in Mulberry, Fla.
Simpson said parting with Robby was almost as difficult as having a dog die.
"You don't know if the dog understands. Having to say goodbye is heartbreaking," Simpson told FOX13.
The military regards dogs as equipment, but Simpson told FOX13, "Any handler that you ask, they're going to tell you that this is my best friend."
Robby is now adjusting to retirement and living with Simpson's three young children, according to FOX13.
Simpson said that Robby is dealing with health issues, like arthritis, but, "His peppy attitude's still there."