SPOKANE, Wash. – It was years in the making, but Mally is finally back home with her handler in the Inland Northwest.

Seven years ago, a local marine served alongside Mally – a bomb-sniffing dog – in Afghanistan. Mally looked after her handler, Nick Montez, and Montez looked out for her.

"She was also my first dog that I had ever had," Montez said.

Once their tour of duty ended and they landed back in the states, the former Marine said Mally was abruptly taken away and reassigned to another handler and mission.

"It was pretty rough, the separation,” Montez said. “I wasn't ready for it. It was pretty sudden."

Montez said he did everything he could to try to adopt Mally, but the military was still using her - and her nose.

After seven years of trying to adopt her, Montez finally got the call in June that Mally was ready to come home.

“She was officially retired yesterday,” Montez said Tuesday.

With all the paperwork in order, Montez flew to Texas to pick Mally up at an Airforce base. He arrived back in Spokane with Mally Tuesday morning.

"I don't think she had been on a plane since we came home from Afghanistan,” he said.

When they were reunited in Texas on Monday, Montez said Mally didn't recognize him right away. But once she smelled him, it all came back.

"Right then, I was in an immediate sense of shock,” Montez said. “I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness."

Montez, who has a tattoo on his ankle of Mally’s military identification number, said the nine-year-old dog is ready for some rest and enjoy life in the Inland Northwest.

"We're going to go home, and she's going to be a princess,” Montez said. “She's going to join my daughter in that venue."