The time U.S Army Specialist Vance McFarland spent in Afghanistan changed his life forever. Not only was his safety threatened almost every hour of every day, but he also met some of the most amazing men and women fighting on behalf of the United States. But one particular soldier left a big impact on McFarland’s heart – and it was not even one of the human ones.
McFarland had one of the toughest jobs in the entire military. He had to go out into the dangerous landscape and scout for explosive devices. Many times these bombs were hidden in the most unlikely places. Thankfully, he had his four-legged service dog named Ikar. This dog was highly trained in the art of explosive detection. A Czech shepherd, Ikar and McFarland formed a very close bond during their deployment in the war-torn nation of Afghanistan.
Having a service dog gave McFarland a lot of comfort while he was at war. He admitted that Ikar was “almost like having a little bit of home” with him at all times.
Eventually, their time together in Afghanistan came to an end. McFarland was relieved. He was going to get to go home. It had been a long deployment, and he needed a break. So McFarland and Ikar took a flight back to Fort Bragg in the United States, where they had their photograph taken. However, McFarland did not realize that Ikar would not be accompanying him home for the rest of the way.
The military took Ikar from McFarland and put him back into the system. Leadership felt that Ikar had a few more good years in him as a military dog. While McFarland got to go back to civilian life, Ikar was forced into more dangerous situations where he had to put his bomb-sniffing skills to use.
Ikar ended up getting sheltered for seventeen months. These were miserable because he had no one to care for him as McFarland had. He was mostly alone.
Eventually, Mission K9 learned about the horrible treatment Ikar was receiving. They decided to do something about it. The president of the nonprofit, Kristen Maurer, worked relentlessly to convince the United States Army to release Ikar. They were just keeping him locked up without even using him. It was a waste, especially when Ikar had someone waiting for him at home. That’s right, McFarland had not forgotten about Ikar for one moment.
In the USA Today story included below, you’ll watch the moment when McFarland and Ikar are reunited after three years of separation. McFarland waits anxiously for the dog at the airport as he nervously plays with the dog toy he brought for Ikar.
“I hope he remembers me,” McFarland says to the camera crew.
But as you’ll see in the video, McFarland had nothing to worry about. As soon as he sees the canine, he calls to him, and Ikar comes sprinting over. Within moments, they’re snuggling up with each other and McFarland is giving the lovable bomb-sniffing dog a great, big hug.
What do you think about this heartwarming reunion?
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