Imagine going through hell with your best friend, only to find out that when you returned home safely, you had to part ways. Maybe to never see each other ever again.
Not only that, but your best friend would have to return back to the same hell you just survived.
That is what happened to Army Specialist Vance McFarland and his canine partner Ikar. They toured in Afghanistan from January 2012 to September 2012, saving lives by finding hidden IEDs throughout the war zone.
McFarland talked about the first IED they found, saying, "On our very first combat patrol outside the wire in Afghanistan we found our very first IED. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment that the many hours of hard work and training together paid off in the first hour of our first combat mission."
When they got back to Fort Bragg from their deployment, they took one final photo together before Ikar was sent back to Afghanistan.
As tough as that sounds, it got even worse for Ikar after a private contractor said they had a place for the Czech Shepherd.
It turned out they did not have any work for Ikar and he was left abandoned in a kennel. The private contract company said it would only be temporary, but again that was far from the truth.
The company stopped making payments and the war veteran wound up spending 17 months in a kennel.
However, the kennel owner still cared for the dog, playing with him and taking him on walks. Ikar deserved more though, so that's when Mission K9 Rescue stepped in.
The rescue operation heard about Ikar and immediately reached out to McFarland on Facebook. After asking him a series of questions to confirm that he was in fact Ikar's original handler, the two were reunited.
Three years had passed between the last time they saw each other, but the bond they formed was still as strong as ever. Waiting at the airport, with a dog toy in hand, Ikar raced over and the best friends were finally together once again.
Reading McFarland's story about what they experienced, further explains how close these heroic dogs and equally brave handlers actually become.
As McFarland wrote, "Throughout the rest of our deployment together our relationship grew stronger. Together we survived many firefights with the enemy, we have taken small arms fire, been pinned down by heavy machine guns, took rockets from RPG attacks, and have even had hand grenades thrown at us in a close enemy ambush."