A 13-year-old golden retriever was so excited when her soldier owner returned home from duty that the dog seemed to cry in happiness.

Army Pvt. Hannah Foraker had never been away from home before until she left for basic training in Oklahoma in September. After three months, Hannah returned home to Cleveland for a visit during Christmas, and one of the most excited for the homecoming was Buddy, her elderly golden retriever.

“When I came home we let her outside and, at first, she didn’t realize I was home,” Foraker told ABC News. “Then, she did a double-take and came back to me. That’s when she started crying and whimpering. She was so excited.”

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Buddy suffers from arthritis, so her mobility is challenged, but for the two weeks that Foraker was home, Buddy followed her everywhere she went.

“My parents were so astonished by how happy she was during my time at home,” she told BuzzFeed. “She normally has trouble going up and down the stairs and takes shorter walks, but now that I was home she was so happy and active. She would get up and do her happy dance.”

The 21-year-old soldier keeps in touch with Buddy while she’s away via Skype. Buddy is very old and also mostly deaf, and Hannah worries that each time she sees her might be the last.

“I hope to see her again next time I’m home during Christmas,” she said. “She will be all right; she’s a fighter.”