September 30, 2022

Varela said goodbye to Atilla in July of 2017 when he left the Marines, but he never forgot the dog he’d been through so much with.

When a dog serves in the military for an extended period of time, he or she often develops an unshakable bond with their handler. Military working dogs and their handlers go through so much together, but eventually, they’re often torn apart.

Military dogs can only serve for so long before they have to retire, and likewise, handlers retire at various points in their careers. It’s a hard thing to go through losing your best companion, but it’s the reality that many working dogs face.

One 9-year-old German Shepherd, Atilla, was ripped apart from his favorite human, Jacob Varela, when Varela left the U.S. Marine Corps. The two were first introduced in 2014 and for three years, they did everything together.

According to CBS 42, Varela said goodbye to Atilla in July of 2017 when he left the Marines, but he never forgot the dog he’d been through so much with.

Years passed and eventually, Atilla was set to retire. The trained tracker dog was at the end of his career in service, which begged the question: What would he do next? Nearing his golden years, Atilla would need a loving home to support him in his old age and meet all his needs.

It can be hard to find a suitable home for an older dog, but thankfully, Varela heard that Atilla was retiring. He immediately volunteered to adopt the dog and got Mission K9 Rescue involved to make it happen.

The non-profit helps retired working dogs find suitable homes and they spent thousands of dollars working with Atilla and Varela to reunite them.

In a sweet video shared by CBS 42, you can see the moment the two met again for the first time in 3 years. Varela may have been afraid Atilla wouldn’t remember him, but the moment they saw each other for the first time, all of those fears vanished.

Watch the touching moment below: