(CNN) -- You don't find too many happy stories in the aftermath of a tornado, but Spc. Jacob Montgomery is telling one.
He was one of many Midwesterners holding on for dear life this month as a spate of deadly tornadoes rumbled through.
Hundreds of families had their lives altered when 76 reported tornadoes hit. At least eight people lost their lives.
Montgomery's apartment in Washington, Illinois, was turned to rubble on November 17. And to make matters worse, he could not find his pitbull puppy, Dexter.
His training helped him deal with a lot of things, he said, but not that.
"As a National Guardsman, you train to respond to emergencies all the time, but I never really had it happen to me," said Montgomery, who has been a military police officer with the Illinois Army National Guard for more than five years.
For days, he scoured the wreckage looking for Dexter, unsuccessfully. Then he got a phone call from his neighbor Tuesday.
A rescue group had found Dexter buried under a pile of rubble near Montgomery's apartment, the neighbor told him.
They coaxed him out of the mess using hot dogs.
"I am lucky. All I had in my apartment is gone, but my dog was all I really had to worry about," Montgomery said.
Montgomery is living at a friend's house while he looks for a new place to stay.
But at least he has Dexter.