In 2017 Jacob Varela had to say goodbye to Attila. The US trooper had handled the German Shepherd for three years in the field of combat, but his partnership with the dog came to an end when Attila was retired from the army.
With Attila gone Mr Varela was heartbroken. Although he completed his tour of duty, he knew he must somehow find his beloved dog and, if possible, adopt him. Varela thus set to work to locate Attila with the help of several veteran-K9 organisations.
Reunion like none other
In 2019, Varela’s wish finally came true. Attila arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport. Only Varela - running through the airport screaming at the top of his voice - knew the real Attila, and knew what they had both been through.
Varela’s reunion shrieks may have startled some airport visitors, but most looked on with admiration as he ran towards the dog and wrapped him up in his arms.
Service dogs are generally assigned arbitrarily to army handlers, and although a dog and his handler may have an excellent working relationship, it is just that. At the end of the handler’s tour – or when the dog becomes too old or is injured – the pair is separated, and a new relationship is forged.
It can be hard for US army vets to forget the dog they worked with, and stories such as Varela’s unfold all the time of reunions of men and women with their trusty and loyal K9s.
Watch the video of Varela and Attila on YouTube: