The relationship between dogs and human traces back to early interactions between human hunters and wolves. Although nobody can explain how exactly humans and dogs first got together, the phrase ‘man’s best friend’ is universally accepted to refer to these canines.
As human beings traded their nomadic lifestyle for a more agrarian and later an industrial life, the roles dogs play changed too. Dogs have been used in warfare throughout history, all the way back to ancient civilizations. Currently, there are 2,700 active U.S Military Working Dogs in various branches of service according to the United States War Dog Association.
A War Dog and A Soldier
Pet dogs bond with their owners but the bond between a war dog and a soldier is even tighter. A bond that cannot be achieved through ‘playing fetch’ in the yard.
US military dogs roles in modern warfare include explosives detection, tracking, scouts, search and rescue. The most common breed is the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd.
Dogs have to Suffer through the Difficulties that Soldiers Endure during Deployment
A Marine Veteran, Sgt Varela formed a similar bond with a U.S Marine Canine for three years while in active duty in a special unit. Atilla R7-89 and the Marine veteran ended up being separated in the course of service. Sgt Varela retired from the Marine Corps and the two parted ways in 2017.
Just like Humans, Dogs Retire as they Age
Thankfully modern warfare minimizes the danger dogs are exposed to in the battlefield. When the Marine veteran found out that his former teammate was retired, he offered to adopt the dog.
Animal welfare group known as Mission K-9 Rescue stepped in to make the reunion happen. The military buddies were finally reunited at Midway Airport on Tuesday.
They Both Deserve to Relax!
Before World War II, war dogs were considered expandable assets. This loyal creature was either euthanized or left abroad. All the dogs that served in the Vietnam War suffered the same fate.
Fortunately, after intensive lobbying from veteran dog handlers, President Bill Clinton signed a law that allowed retired war dogs to be adopted. Subsequent amendments have made it mandatory to bring back all war dogs from abroad. Retired working dogs are today mostly adopted as therapy dogs. Atilla and Sgt Varela are currently enjoying a civilian life in Albany Park, Chicago. They are both out of the Marine now and Sgt Varela is now a full-time student, studying to earn his bachelor’s degree.