'She kept me going when he died': Father of fallen soldier loses dog before Memorial Day

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Dwayne Stitzinger had a bittersweet Memorial Day with his son gone and his dog dying days before. (Source: Dwayne Stitzinger) Dwayne Stitzinger had a bittersweet Memorial Day with his son gone and his dog dying days before. (Source: Dwayne Stitzinger)
Andrew lost part of his leg, an eye, a finger and had severe head trauma after he hit something in the road. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Andrew lost part of his leg, an eye, a finger and had severe head trauma after he hit something in the road. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Babe was Andrew's best pal. (Source: Dwayne Stitzinger) Babe was Andrew's best pal. (Source: Dwayne Stitzinger)
Dwayne took Babe fishing every week in that year after Andrew died. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dwayne took Babe fishing every week in that year after Andrew died. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
AHWATUKEE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

“I wish he was still here,” Dwayne Stitzinger said.

Eight years ago, Dwayne couldn’t have been more proud of his 25-year-old son Andrew Stitzinger. He was proudly serving our country in Baghdad. But then he got the worst call possible.

“Of course, Andrew, you know him, he had to drive that hummer. And he hit the wrong thing in the road. And it blew him up,” said Dwayne.

Andrew lost part of his leg, an eye, a finger and had severe head trauma. Doctors were able to bring him home alive, but Dwayne was only able to spend one more Christmas with his son.  

“A couple months later, he went to sleep, and that was it. He never woke up,” said Dwayne.

The two used to go fishing while Andrew was growing up, but not alone. They would go with Andrew’s best pal, their dog, Babe.

“He couldn’t wait to see Babe. Babe was his favorite dog,” said Dwayne.

So Dwayne took Babe fishing every week in that year after Andrew died. And Babe would go with him every Memorial Day to visit Andrew’s grave.

“She was right by my side 24/7 to help me with this terrible thing that happened,” said Dwayne.

This year Babe turned 17 years old.

“She’s in really bad shape,” said Dwayne in a recent video of Babe trying to walk around.

He knew she might not make it to Memorial Day this year.

“Babe…she went to work with me every day. She was by my side. She was one of the best support dogs you could ever have. And I just lost her two weeks ago,” said Dwayne.

The Ahwatukee community paid for Babe to be cremated, and Dwayne still keeps her right next to him. Even though he isn’t able to hug her tight on this day this year, he knows somebody who is. Andrew.  

“It’s hard this Memorial Day without having my other support around,” Dwayne said.

“But at least they’re reunited,” Briana Whitney said.

“Yeah, and I don’t know how I got through it, Babe,” said Dwayne.

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Briana WhitneyBriana Whitney joined CBS 5/3TV in February 2018, and is no stranger to the sunshine and heat!

Click to learn more about Briana.

Briana Whitney

She’s from Northern California, but prior to coming to Phoenix, she reported at KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, TX for three years.

During her time in South Texas, she reported on several national stories. Some of the most memorable were the 2015 Wimberley floods, reporting for eight hours off the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017, and reporting from the church shooting in Sutherland Springs in November of 2017.

Her general assignment reporting won her two Associated Press awards, six EMMA awards, and one Emmy nomination for a half-hour special she wrote, produced and hosted on the issue of child pornography.

Briana graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and during college had seven different internships at several news stations.

When she isn’t chasing breaking news or working on a feature story, Briana loves checking out the best restaurants in the Valley, and hiking or rollerblading around town. Briana is very happy to have made Arizona home!

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