Sgt. Varela and K-9 Atilla have formed an unbreakable bond forged by danger and sealed by loyalty.And time has done nothing to diminish it.Some bonds are so strong that neither distance nor time can break them.A marine and a retired K9 service dog have demonstrated that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
The emotional reunion of man and beast was witnessed by the people at Midway Airport.They were quite attached after spending three years working together, looking out for each other, and taking care of each other.
Atilla R7-89, a U.S. Marine Corps canine, arrives at the airport to meet a very special person – Sgt. Jacob Varela, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret. ), his old partner.”I got stuck with him in 2014; I brought him from Lackland; he was a combat tracker.And we had been together for three years.I walked away and haven’t seen him since.”Varela and Atilla formed a lasting bond, just like any other dog owner, but theirs was forged out of danger and a sense of duty.
We did everything together.He was with me everywhere I went.He was with me when we were out in the field for a month, month and a half, whatever.If I was drinking, he was drinking, and if I was eating, he was eating.He becomes like a teammate to you.”But their responsibilities would eventually separate them.They never saw each other again after 2017.
After all, they’re both just following orders, no matter where those orders take them.When Sgt. Varela learned of Atilla’s retirement, he seized the opportunity to be reunited with his best friend.The retired marine worked with Mission K-9 Rescue to get his best friend to live with him permanently.Kristen Maurer of Mission K-9 Rescue explained to CBS how close these partners are:
“These dogs serve with these guys, they train with them 24/7, they put their lives on the line together, so there’s a bond that we don’t understand.”Sgt. Varela waited for Southwest Airlines Flight 7 from Houston to land at Midway, hoping that his buddy would still recognize him.
“Come here!” said a high-pitched voice.”Come here!” yelled the retired marine as he ran towards his best friend, arms wide open.
Atilla runs to his former handler, tail wagging and excited tippy-tapping, finally having someone to call family and a place to call home.Varela was relieved about the reunion, telling CBS:”From the way he reacted and jumped, he knows who I am, which is good.”
Varela, who is pursuing a college degree, told CBS that Atilla is currently enjoying a well-deserved retirement.It’s not uncommon, but it’s stunning.Sgt. Varela isn’t the only soldier who has been reunited with his best friend.
Bogi, a dog she worked with for over a year before being reassigned to another base, was finally adopted by Sgt. Angela Cardone.When Sgt. Cardone was assigned to Japan, she and Bogi collaborated.She knew she had to give Bogi a forever home after she was transferred to Hawaii.
When Bogi had to retire due to a neck injury, Sgt. Cardone contacted American Humane to assist her in adopting her best friend.They reunited in Hawaii, and Sgt. Cardone is overjoyed to provide her puppy with a retirement full of love and comfort.