Unless you have a heart of stone, videos of veterans being reunited with their delighted dogs should never fail to bring a tear (or 100) to your eyes. In honor of Veterans Day, here are some of the most heartwarming, in my humble opinion.
Marine Reunites with K-9 Partner 2 Years Later
After a two-year separation, last year Marine Sgt. Jacob Varela was reunited with Atilla, a German Shepherd who’s a trained tracker dog. The two had worked together for three years in a special operations unit.
“We were together for everything, everywhere I went out in the field,” Varela told WGN. “If I was drinking water, he was drinking water. He’s an actual teammate.”
When Varela found out that 9-year-old Atilla was being retired, he decided to adopt his former partner. The nonprofit organization Mission K9 Rescue, whose mission is to reunite military dogs with their handlers, helped to make this happen.
In July 2019, Varela and Atilla were reunited at Midway International Airport in Chicago. “The way he reacted, the way he jumped on me, he knows who I am, so that’s good,” Varela said.
Senior Golden Retriever Reunites with Dog Mom
Buddy, a 13-year-old, arthritic and partially deaf Golden Retriever, had been with her dog mom, Hannah Foraker, ever since she was a puppy. Foraker had never been away from her home in Cleveland, Ohio, when she joined the Army in 2015.
After a three-month separation, Foraker returned home for two weeks at Christmastime. “Buddy came running, as best as she could, out of the house and said hello to everyone,” Foraker told FOX 8 at the time. “At first she didn’t even realize I was there, but she did a double take and came bounding over to me, whining nonstop in pure glee.”
Foraker said Buddy never left her side during her visit.
After 3 Years, Soldier Reunites with His K-9 Partner
Vance McFarland and his bomb-sniffing K-9 partner, a Czech Shepherd named Ikar, spent two years together during a tour of duty in Afghanistan that ended in 2012.
Afterward, McFarland returned home to Boise, Idaho, while Ikar and other members of the Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD) program were bought by a private company and then left to languish in a boarding kennel. Fortunately, thanks to Mission K9 Rescue and the United States War Dogs Association posting photos of these dogs on social media, their former handlers, including McFarland, were successfully tracked down.
After a three-year separation, McFarland and Ikar were finally reunited, and it was all captured on video. McFarland adopted his loyal partner.
“Having a dog with you on deployment is almost like having a little bit of home,” McFarland told KTVB. “Other soldiers were jealous — they always wanted to come up and pet Ikar. We made the best of it.”
McFarland said Ikar “is going to live the rest of his retired life spoiled. Really spoiled.”
A Compilation for (Literally) Crying Out Loud
Still have some unused tissues left? Enjoy this compilation of veterans reuniting with their dogs that was put together by The Dodo.
You can make a donation to help Mission K9 Rescue facilitate more happy reunions.
Photo: Hannah Foraker/YouTube