SYDNEY - An Australian sniffer dog has been found alive and well nearly 14 months after going missing in an intense firefight in war-torn southern Afghanistan, officials said on Thursday.
"Sabi", a black labrador who searches out roadside bombs for Australia's Special Forces, appeared unharmed by her ordeal after being returned by an unknown Afghan man.
"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," her trainer said of their reunion.
"It's amazing, just incredible, to have her back."
Sabi went missing in September last year when Taliban militants ambushed Australian, US and Afghan forces in Uruzgan province, wounding nine people including her handler.
SAS Trooper Mark Donaldson was in January awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour in Britain and the Commonwealth, for rescuing a wounded interpreter during the battle under heavy machine-gun fire.
"She's the last piece of the puzzle," Donaldson 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."
The dog was recovered last week at a remote patrol base in northeastern Uruzgan by a US soldier, before being returned to Australian troops.
Special forces had made several attempts to find out what happened to Sabi, who will undergo quarantine and medical tests before returning to Australia.