They navigated the dangerous terrain in Afghanistan searching for bombs and creating a powerful bond that could mean the difference between life and death. Then, upon their return U.S. Army Specialist Vance McFarland and his tactical explosive detector dog, Ikar, were instantly separated; not knowing if they’d see each other again.
McFarland was Ikar’s original handler. The two had gone through training and the dog’s first tour to Afghanistan together. In 2012, when they finished their tour, Ikar was sent back to go through the T.E.D.D. program. For fear of security risks, McFarland was told very little about the whereabouts of Ikar. Unbeknownst to him, after Ikar’s second tour in the Middle East he spent a year and half in kennel despite no one paying for him to be there. Thanks to the efforts of Mission K9 and the U.S. War Dogs Association, McFarland was reunited with his four-legged partner after three years.
During their three years of separation, McFarland admitted he never stopped thinking about him. In a personal account posted on the Mission K9 Rescue Facebook, McFarland confesses the importance of having Ikar around during his time on tour.
“The bond and amount of trust we had in each other was stronger than anything I could ever explain to another person…Ikar definitely made the reality of war much easier to get through. We made many memories in our time together and even though I had to treat him as my partner and not a pet, we made the best of it and got away with a lot of play time and smuggled in dog treats.”
The emotional reunion between the soldier and his dog took place at the Boise airport on Aug. 20.
Ikar is just one the many dogs sent in dangerous combat zones, risking their lives. Mission K9 Rescue and other similar organizations work to find retired war dogs a loving family and home.
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