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Slideshow: Bomb Dog Can’t Make Peace With War

The Marines have 58 bomb dogs in Afghanistan. Fifty-seven get right out there and do their jobs with stunning enthusiasm. But one is so badly...

Maria Goodavage  |  Mar 5th 2010


The Marines have 58 bomb dogs in Afghanistan. Fifty-seven get right out there and do their jobs with stunning enthusiasm. But one is so badly riddled by the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder that he had to sit out the offensive in the Central Helmand Province.

Meet First Sgt. Gunner, a loving yellow Labrador retriever with a most ill-fitting moniker.

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Gunner did well in bomb-dog school in Virginia, but the Wall Street Journal reports that once in Afghanistan he was so skittish at the sound of artillery and gunfire that he never made it to the front lines. In a touching report, the Journal describes how some war dogs — like their human comrades — are just more cut out for combat than others:

One Marine Corps explosives dog, a black Lab named Daisy, has found 13 hidden bombs since arriving in Afghanistan in October. Zoom, another Lab, refused to associate with the Marines after seeing one serviceman shoot a feral Afghan dog. Only after weeks of retraining, hours of playing with a reindeer squeaky toy and a gusher of good-boy praise was Zoom willing to go back to work.

As for Gunner, his handlers aren’t sure what made him snap. He is so afraid of loud noises that his is official record states he “is not mission capable and is a liability if he is to leave the wire.”

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Kennel chief Cpl. Chad McCoy doesn’t have high hopes for Gunner’s combat career. He tells the Journal he’ll consider it a success if Gunner can pack away the past to make a good pet for someone stateside. “He’s a lover,” he says.

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Read the entire article and see more photos of Gunner and his comrades on the Wall Street Journal website. We hope Gunner will be on the next plane back to the US, where his name will be changed to Gunther, and he’ll have a wonderfully peaceful, bucolic life with no demons of war to haunt his sensitive soul.