Ikar, a 5-year-old Czech shepherd, proved just how deep dog loyalty goes last Thursday.
Even though Ikar and his human battle buddy, U.S. Army Specialist Vance McFarland, spent three years apart, the canine recognized him instantly during their reunion at the Boise, Idaho, airport, reports KTVB.
The trained Tactical Explosive Detection Dog raced into his old partner’s arms and immediately covered him in kisses.
McFarland was responsible for training Ikar and was deployed to Afghanistan with the dog to detect roadside bombs.
“Some times were good, some times were stressful. Having Ikar definitely made it a lot better. Having a dog with you on deployment is almost like having a little bit of home. Other soldiers were jealous; they always wanted to come up and pet Ikar. We made the best of it,” said McFarland.
In September 2012, the pair returned from their tour and were separated. McFarland could get only one photo with Ikar before he was taken away to be prepared for his next deployment.
“It sucked. I mean, we worked together for a long time. We were really close, then it was just like that, they took him away,” he said.
After his next tour, Ikar was purchased by a private contract company and left with 10 other TEDDs at Mount Hope Kennels in Richmond, Virginia. The dogs were supposed to stay at the kennels for only two months, but the company never returned for the animals.
Eager to help the abandoned canines find new homes, the kennels’ owner, Greg Meredith, turned the dogs over to United States War Dogs Association of Burlington, New Jersey, and the Mission K9 Rescue of Houston, Texas. Both organizations posted photos of all the TEDDs to social media, hoping to find the specialists who worked with them.
“I got Facebook-stalked, to be honest with you. I woke up one morning and had all kinds of messages on Facebook. People were like, ‘Is this your dog? Were you a dog handler in the Army?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah! What’s going on?’ That’s when I heard he had been abandoned and then saved and that I get the chance to adopt him now,” said McFarland.
It was a no-brainer for McFarland, who is now a full-time student living with his wife and two dogs in Boise. After three years apart, the army specialist reunited with Ikar to take him home forever.
This isn’t the first duo the United States War Dogs Association and the Mission K9 Rescue have paired together again. The organization recently reunited another army specialist with his TEDD, Donna, who spent four years apart before finding each other again.