On Valentine's Day, the rescue dog Clifford was sent home with his new family - Gunnery Sgt. John Szczepanowski.
The puppy who survived an 80-foot fall over an Ocean Beach cliff will be working with the U.S. Marines.
On Valentine's Day, the rescue dog was sent home with his new family - Gunnery Sgt. John Szczepanowski.
Lifeguards rescued the little three-pound dog after he fell near Ladera Street along Sunset Cliffs on Jan. 11.
The Chihuahua was turned over to the care of the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services.
With a head injury, broken ribs and a number of bruises the puppy was nursed back to health by staff members who decided to name him Clifford.
On Thursday, Szczepanowski arrived in full uniform to scoop up his new friend and take him off to surprise his girlfriend.
A Marine who works with wounded veterans returning from active duty, Szczepanowski has big plans for this little pup.
“He’s going to become a therapy dog and he’s going to do a lot of work with me in the local VA’s and vets centers here in San Diego and Southern California as we try and help these Marines and corpsmen in their transition in life,” he said.
Szczepanowski said it helps to have a little ice breaker with wounded vets and he could attest that Clifford does the job well.
"He’s actually calmed me down quite a bit," he admitted.
Once he was ready for adoption, the county opened up online applications. More than 70 people applied to take him home.
Szczepanowski said Clifford's story was heart-wrenching and he decided he deserved a good forever home.
While he believes the puppy will help provide him with a sense of purpose, the tall Marine said, “He’s also going to be looking out for me too.”