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DENVER - It has been almost four years since U.S. Army Specialist Tyler Roberts has seen a teammate he spent every day with while serving in Afghanistan.
That changed Wednesday night.
After years of searching, Roberts reunited with Donna, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois at the Carpenter Recreational Center in Thornton.
Donna is a retired Tactical Explosive Detective Dog (TEDD), trained to sniff out bombs and other explosive devices.
The two were deployed with the 101st Airborne to Southern Afghanistan in 2011. During their tour, Roberts and Donna found hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate and as a result, protected dozens of people from harm.
When they returned back to Colorado following their tour, the pair parted ways, and Roberts began the search for his battle buddy.
"We separated in September 2011, and I tried to follow her career so that I could adopt her after she retired, but I could never get a straight answer as to her whereabouts," Roberts said.
Turns out, Donna and 10 other TEDD's were adopted by an unlicensed private contracting company that ended up abandoning them at Mt. Hope Kennels in Richmond, Va.
The owner of Mt. Hope Kennels, Greg Meredith, took the dogs in with the understanding that their stay at the kennel would not exceed two months. Often times, TEDD's get deployed on several missions over the course of their careers. For many of them, including Donna, that never happened. After a 15-month stay, Donna and the other dogs were handed over to the United States War Dogs Association in Burlington, N.J. and Mission K9 Rescue of Houston, Texas.
Thanks to the partnership between the two organizations and Mt. Hope Kennels, Roberts was reunited with Donna.
Kristen Maurer, president of Mission K-9 Rescue in Houston, made the thousand mile trip with Donna to make the reunion happen.
"Our goal is to reunite all of the handlers and soldiers with their war dogs. We love to make that happen for them," said Maurer.
Roberts said he's thrilled to be able to spend every day with his little buddy again.
"I owe her my life and I intend to spoil her for the remainder of hers," said Roberts.