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Today We Honor Military Working Dogs

For National POW/MIA Recognition Day we revisit recent posts on military service dogs as well as dogs belonging to men and women in uniform.

Michael Leaverton  |  Sep 19th 2014


Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and people across the country are taking time to remember prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. At Dogster, we believe it’s appropriate to revisit one of our favorite subjects: military working dogs.

Here’s a round-up of some of the stories about military dogs we’ve done in the past year, plus some stories about the stateside dogs of those serving — and there’s a look at what may be the future of military dogs.

1. Animal Planet’s Glory Hounds Follows Military Dogs in Afghanistan

From the story:

Did you know that when Seal Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden, a military dog was part of the raid, working with his handler? Did you know that the military has more than 600 working military dogs in Afghanistan, protecting soldiers and civilians, sniffing out bombs and tracking insurgents?

In Afghanistan, military dogs have proved crucial, the best defense against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are hidden randomly in the sand. As such, the dogs are also prime targets for the Taliban. They take on the most dangerous roles and develop intense bonds with their handlers.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Monument for Military Dogs Is Set to Open in San Antonio

From the story:

The monument is the passion of 65-year-old John Burnam, who served as a scout dog handler in Vietnam.

“I experienced firsthand how valuable these dogs are at saving soldiers’ lives,” Burnam said in a press statement. “Yet, despite their value, when we pulled out of Vietnam the dogs were left behind. They were fellow soldiers and they were our best friends. They were heroes and they were left to die. So I was determined to get the dogs, of all wars, recognized at the highest level of our nation’s government and then build them a magnificent national monument to ensure they would never be forgotten again.”

Read the rest of the story here.

3. A Military Dog Is Captured by the Taliban

From the story:

On Thursday, the Afghan Taliban said it had captured a U.S. military dog and posted a video of the dog online. In the video, the dog is wearing a “complex harness” and mills around members of the Taliban, clearly frightened.

According to the Guardian, the dog appears to be Belgian Sheepdog. The paper talked to “an experienced dog handler” who has worked in Afghanistan, who said the dog “just wants to get back to his handler.

Though early reports said the dog was from the U.S. military, the Pentagon finally weighed in and said the dog did not belong to U.S. forces, but rather British.

4. Lucca the Three-Legged Retired Military Dog Has Been Nominated for a Hero Dog Award

From the story:

Lucca is a nine-year-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix. She is now retired after serving in the United States Marine Corps for six years. During her service, Lucca was the victim of an explosion in Afghanistan. She suffered serious burns to her chest and torso, and her left front leg had to be amputated. However, her sacrifice helped spare the lives of the humans on patrol with her, and she was saved after being evacuated immediately. If that doesn’t make her a Monday Miracle, we don’t know what does!

Her injury occurred in March of last year, but she didn’t officially retire until May 2012, when she was adopted by her original handler. In the past year, Lucca has been living the good life as a family pet and as an ambassador for all soldier dogs. She even got to ride on the “Canines With Courage” float in the Rose Parade, debuting a mock-up of the U.S. Military Dog Teams National Monument.

Read the rest of the story here.

5. Dogs on Deployment Helps Our Troops Keep Their Pets

From the story:

Since June of 2011, Dogs on Deployment has helped nearly 200 pets find temporary homes [while their owners are on deployment]. It uses Facebook to spread the word about animals in need, which helps introduce the organization to the public and within the military, which offers its members no official support or education for pet ownership.

“At least once a day, I get a call about a service member who turned in their dog to a shelter. Not everyone has the education we have as pet owners,” Alisa explains. She says that just as the military provides information about financial planning, it should teach service members what it means to be a responsible pet owner. She hopes to one day get such information dispensed through official channels and for the organization to become officially recommended by military assistance organizations and base family-support centers. Until then, the Dogs on Deployment team, which also includes Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly, uses networking and word of mouth to reach pet owners in need.

Read the rest of the story here.

6. Robot Dog Cujo Goes on Military Training Missions

From the story:

Nicknamed Cujo by his fellow soldiers — hat tip on the name, Marines — the dog can walk and run over rugged terrain, following a soldier while carrying 400 pounds and maneuvering around large objects, according to the Daily Mail. Cujo is a pack mule, basically, but one who can scare enemies back to bed.

One of his main acts in the Hawaii training sessions was to bring water and supply to various platoons in the training area, many of which were located in rough terrain that could not be accessed by all-terrain vehicles.

Read the rest of the story here.

7. Prepare to Bawl Over These Videos of Sick Dogs Reunited With Their Military Dads

From the story:

The first video is ruthless. A dog named Kermie, cancer-stricken and dying, held on just long enough to greet her returning Dad, a sailor who was stationed overseas for eight months.

According to the New York Daily News, a month after Navy Hospital Corpsman Eric Ralston was deployed to Guam, his wife received horrible news — Kermie had oral cancer and had three months to live.

“We were devastated to say the least,” Jennifer Ralston posted on YouTube. “Kermie was our first child, and we did not think Eric would ever get to see her again.”

Kermie grew sick and weak, but she hung on, long enough to have this ridiculously tender moment with her dad:

“His return was some sort of magic pill for her. She began eating and drinking again, without struggle!” Jennifer said. “Watching the homecoming video, you cannot even see the struggles of the previous months.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Have you any experience with military dogs? Or thoughts about their role? Let us know in the comments.

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