Military K9 reunited with former Marine Sergeant after years apart

CHICAGO, Illinois -- After two years apart, a United States Marine reunited with an old military buddy.

The nine-year-old trained tracking German Shepherd, Atilla, worked alongside Marine sergeant Jacob Valera.

He spent three years in a special operations unit.

"I got stuck with him in 2014, I brought him from Lackland, he was a combat tracker," said Valera. "We were together for 3 years. I got out and haven't seen him since."

The two formed a lasting bond, but have not seen each other since July 2017.

"We were together for everything," recalled Valera. "Everywhere I went, he was with me. When we were out in the field, out there for a month, month and a half, he was with me. If I was drinking water, he was drinking water, if I was eating, he was eating. He becomes like your teammate."

However, all military dogs eventually have to retire.

When Varela learned Atilla could no longer work, he wanted to adopt his old buddy.

That's where a group called Mission K9 rescue stepped in.

"These dogs serve with these guys, they spend 24/7 training with them, putting their lives on the line together," explained Kristen Maurer of Mission K9. "So, there's a bond that we can't understand."

"The way he reacted, the way he jumped, he knows who I am, so that's good," said Valera.

Varela is no longer active in the United States Marines. He's now working on earning his college degree.

He says Atilla has earned a relaxing retirement.