Sabi the Army dog returns home after 14 months lost in Afghanistan
Sabi, an explosive detection dog , was reunited with her trainer at the Australian base Afghanistan
An Australian special forces explosive detection dog has been found after going missing in action in Afghanistan 14 months ago.
Sabi, a four-year-old black Labrador, was returned to the Australian base at Tarin Kowt after she had been found by an American soldier wandering in a remote area of the southern province of Oruzgan last week.
The US soldier, named only as John, knew his Australian counterparts had lost their favourite canine companion during a gun battle involving Australian, US and Afghan special forces fighting against Taleban insurgents in southeastern Afghanistan last September. Nine Australian soldiers, including Sabi’s handler, were wounded during the engagement, and Sabi went missing.
Sabi, who was on her second tour of duty to Afghanistan, was officially declared Mission In Action. It is not known how she survived the past year, presumably eluding the Taleban, until she was discovered by the US soldier, who realised she was not a stray dog because she understood certain commands.
"I took the dog and gave it some commands it understood," John said.
She was reunited with her trainer this week who made sure the dog was Sabi with a tennis ball test.
"I nudged a tennis ball to her with my foot and she took it straight away. It's a game we used to play over and over during her training," the trainer said. "It's amazing, just incredible, to have her back."
Trooper Mark Donaldson, a VC recipient who is currently in London after a meeting with the Queen, was at the same battle where Sabi went missing.
"She's the last piece of the puzzle,'' he said. "Having Sabi back gives some closure for the handler and the rest of us that served with her in 2008 - it's a fantastic morale booster for the guys."
Yesterday Sabi was feted by US General Stanley McChrystal and the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who met the dog during an overnight trip to visit the troops in Afghanistan.
“Sabi is back home in one piece and (is) a genuinely nice pooch as well,” Mr Rudd said, after posing for a photo with the dog.
The government is now working on returning Sabi home to Australia after a period of quarantine.
Dogs have become loyal companions to the thousands of troops stationed in war zones around the world.
In August British soldiers were saddened to leave behind Sandbag, a sandy-coloured retriever, who had been born on the base at Umm Qasr in Iraq after Downing Street turned down the request to repatriate the pet.
Last year US sergeant Gwen Beberg created headlines with her campaign to take a scruffy stray dog back to America when she returned home from Iraq. Sergeant Beberg had rescued Ratchet from burning rubbish in Baghdad.
But Sabi is the first dog known to have become lost in battle " and returned home.