Take some tail-wagging, jumping and slobbery kisses. Add tears, hugs and an element of surprise — and you have the recipe for one sweet holiday treat: a happy reunion video.

Dramatic homecomings caught on video are a few of our favorite things. So we’ve lined up the best ones from 2015, including a dog being returned to a former military handler and one who was found thousands of miles from home.

Ecstatic Military Dog Retires With Handler

Hattie was the picture of happiness when she was returned to her former handler, Staff Sergeant Terry White, at the Philadelphia International Airport in September. The two bonded while serving in the military together in Guam, but they were separated when White was transferred back to the states. Recently, veterinarians discovered that the 3-year-old dog had an irregular heartbeat and should be retired — and White didn’t hesitate to adopt her. “I’m so happy to have her. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that’s all I’ve cared about the last few days is getting her here,” he told Philadelphia’s WPVI. Hattie wildly wagged her tail and smothered White with kisses when they were reunited.

Family Dog Found 2,500 Miles From Home

This German Shepherd went through a much different kind of ordeal, but his story also has a happy ending. Rico was taken from his San Diego family in a messy breakup three years ago. In May, he was found wandering the streets — across the country in Virginia. He was then flown back to California, where he was happily returned to Andrea Arce and her 6- and 8-year-old daughters. Arce didn’t tell her girls about Rico’s return beforehand, and they were thrilled to see their dog again, Los Angeles’s KTLA reported. Rico, now 6 years old, seemed to remember his family and started whining and scratching at his crate as soon as he saw them. “We never forgot him, and he never forgot us,” Arce said.

Dog Thought to Be Dead Returned to Owners

Zeus, a Rottweiler mix, was also found on the other side of the country — more than two years after his family had been told he’d died. His military family had left him in the care of friends when they moved from Georgia to South Korea for an assignment. While they were there, they got a terrible call saying that Zeus passed away. So in July, Zeus’s family was shocked to receive a call from a pet hospital in North Carolina, telling them that a good Samaritan found their dog wandering in a neighborhood, North Carolina’s WNCN reported. But the family had moved to Washington state — 3,000 miles from where Zeus was found — and the dog couldn’t be flown to them, because he was being treated for heartworm. That’s when a Banfield Pet Hospital practice manager offered to drive him across the country and got to witness the family’s sweet reunion.


Bomb-Sniffing Dog Runs Into Partner’s Arms

Five-year-old German Shepherd Ikar made a beeline for U.S. Army Specialist Vance McFarland when he spotted him in the airport in August. The pair spent a year working together in Afghanistan, but they hadn’t seen each other since 2012. McFarland always wondered what had happened to his buddy, and he even named one of his two Australian Shepherds Raki, which is Ikar spelled backward. It turned out that Ikar was one of 12 dogs abandoned at the Mt. Hope Kennels in Virginia by a private contractor. When the contractor didn’t go back for the dogs after 17 months, the kennel owner turned to Mission K9 Rescue and the U.S. War Dogs Association, which helped them find forever homes. McFarland promised that Ikar will now spend his retirement “spoiled as hell,” Idaho’s KIVI reported.

Emotional Reunion After Three-Alarm Fire

Sometimes a joyous reunion isn’t years in the making — but that feeling of relief is just as powerful. Melvin Rodriguez and his 14-year-old son, Damon, were overcome with joy when they were reunited with their French Bulldog after a devastating fire consumed their New Jersey apartment building in April. The two sank to the sidewalk while clutching Sebastian after firefighters reunited them outside the building. Sebastian seemed relieved, too, and licked his owners as women inside a nearby hair salon broke into applause.  
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