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“It’s like winning the lottery,” Marine Sergeant Chris Jaramillo said of reuniting with his pal Shooter

By Amy Jamieson
Updated October 16, 2015 03:47 PM
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Marine Sergeant Chris Jaramillo’s life is complete — his best friend is back with him after nine years apart.

Jaramillo was one of three marine handlers reunited with their war dogs on Wednesday at K2 Solutions in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where the canines were trained.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” Jaramillo said of reuniting with this pal. “Life’s complete. I got my buddy back.”

According to ABC News 11, who covered the reunion, Jaramillo and Shooter were separated in 2006 after sniffing out IEDS and saving lives together. Some of the marines got out of the military, others continued service but were separated from their dogs. All of them thought fondly of the war buddies they worked with.

“I tried to keep up with him,” said Sergeant Mark Slocum, who was reunited with his black Lab, Tug. “I never thought I’d be able to adopt him because he had several handlers over the years.”

The Marines had trained with the canines as a part of the now-defunct IDD program. The government cut the program and gave the okay for K2 to offer adoptions, ABC News 11 reports, and last week K2 started contacting the dozens of current and former Marines among the 950 handlers in the program’s history.

“I actually got to make the phone calls to the guys coming to get their dogs,” said K2 marketing specialist Brooklyn Smith. “It was really special.”

Jaramillo’s life isn’t the only one fur-ever changed by these dog adoptions, including nine more which will take place on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s going to be a help to me honestly because there’s a lot of struggles after you get out,” said former Marine Corporal Stephen Kessler, who trained with a dog named Cade, but is taking home another dog named Suzy. “And these dogs, they’re not certified, but in my eyes they’re every bit certified to help people.”