An Australian Special Forces explosives detection dog has been found alive and well almost 14 months after going missing in action (MIA) in Afghanistan.
Sabi was found by a US soldier at an isolated patrol base in north-eastern Uruzgan last week.
The black Labrador was declared MIA in September 2008 during the same battle with the Taliban in which SAS Trooper Mark Donaldson won his Victoria Cross.
Sabi was present with her handler when their combined Australian, US and Afghan National Army convoy was ambushed by an insurgent force.
Nine Australian soldiers, including Sabi's handler, were wounded during the engagement.
Sabi spent more than a year in the desolate south of Afghanistan and repeated attempts were made by the Special Operations Task Group to find her.
The US soldier who found her, and who can only be identified by his first name John, was aware Australian Special Forces soldiers were missing one of their explosive detection dogs.
He said it was immediately obvious that Sabi was no ordinary dog.
"I took the dog and gave it some commands it understood," he said.
How cool is that? It says something about John that he noticed this dog, and approached her in the first place. That is to say, I would guess he had other stuff to do. But notice her he did, and got her to the right people, much to the delight of her trainers:
She was flown to Tarin Kowt to be reunited with one of her trainers and he knew instantly it was Sabi.
"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."
Currently in the United Kingdom after meeting Her Majesty the Queen, Trooper Mark Donaldson said Sabi's return closed a chapter of their shared history.
"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."
At the time of her disappearance Sabi was coming to the end of her second tour of duty in Afghanistan, having previously deployed to Uruzgan in 2007.
Sabi will now undergo a period of quarantine before a decision can be made about the timing of her return to Australia.
Below is the video report of this remarkable dog and her unit (ignore the moniker of the poster - this was the one closest to the original shown in Australia):
How much do you love that shot of Sabi in the big trunk of tennis balls?? I just love that she's a Special Forces Dog, about to be decorated, and playing with her tennis balls is such a high priority!
As we go into the weekend, I hope this story brings a smile to your face, and a hug to the furry creature of your choice!