Handlers and their military working dogs spend countless hours training and working side-by-side so their bond grows very deep. Relying on each other for survival in the harshest of situations, it’s no wonder they share such a special relationship.
After serving side-by-side, eventually military dogs will have to retire and sometimes that means leaving their beloved partner behind. However, whenever possible, it’s usually in the best interest of the dog and handler to be able to stay together or eventually be reunited.
Such is the case of this special K9 Atilla code R7-89, a 9-year old black and tan German Shepherd who worked as a special combat tracker with U.S. Marine Canine Handler Sea Sergeant Jacob Varela for three years.
The pair served at Lackland Airforce base and deployed on many mission. They drank water together, ate together, and sometimes spent months at a time on missions together.
“We were together for everything, like everywhere I went, he was with me,” Sgt. Varela told WBS news.
When Sergeant Varela left the Marines, he was forced to leave behind his friend and partner, Atilla. But three years later, all that changed in the Midway International Airport, Chicago in 2019.
With the help of Kristen Maurer from Mission K9 Rescue, Varela was able to adopt Atilla and give him his forever retirement home. The two were reunited at the airport, in front of onlookers after Atilla was flown in on a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston, Texas.
When Varela and Atilla saw each other for the first time, it was apparent that they were overjoyed at seeing each other again. As if no time had passed, the dog and handler ran toward each other with Sergeant Varela crying out to the pup who ran happily into his arms.
The two friends will now live out their lives away from war and with each other. Varela will give Atilla all the love and rest he deserves after such a long career.
They both deserve that and so much more. We thank them for their service.