Our Four-Legged Warriors: They Serve, They Sacrifice, They Retire and, Sadly, They Leave Us.

Paris, a coalition force military working dog, stands in a tactical vehicle during a patrol stop in Afghanistan’s Farah province, Nov. 24, 2012.

It has been a while since we have posted about “man’s best friend,” in particular about those “four-legged warriors”: military working dogs.

Just to recap some background on these brave and loyal animals:

In addition to being man’s best friend, dogs have been some of man’s best companions and protectors during hunting, patrolling, in guarding his person and property — and in warfare.

“The Greeks and Romans probably were the first users of dogs in warfare. They sent formations of attack dogs, complete with spiked armor, to harass and cause general disturbance throughout enemy lines,” according to a factsheet published by the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Working Dog School, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

The school — the modern day follow-up to the original U.S. Army Canine (K-9) Corps — procures, trains and provides military working dogs (MWDs) used in patrol, drug and explosive detection, and specialized mission functions by DoD and other government agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration at more than 80 major airports throughout the country. It also conducts the training of the MWD handlers and provides a breeding program, veterinary care, and research and development for related security efforts worldwide.

The fact sheet tells us that the best breeds of dogs for MWD are the German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, describes the “basic military working dog,” the differences between a sentry dog and a patrol dog and how the dogs are selected, acquired and trained and also describes the very special roles and training of “detector dogs.” Also, how the detection roles have progressed from detecting marijuana and other drugs in Southeast Asia, through the detection of cocaine, hashish and heroin (today the Department of Defense has more than 500 drug detector dogs in service at various bases around the world), into explosives, bombs and ordnance and how they finally expanded into the detection of the deadly Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But enough “background.” Here are some recent photographs of these wonderful animals serving our country.

“Maj. Butch,” a therapy dog, concludes her tour interacting with service members in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Field, Feb. 1, 2013.

Paris, a coalition force military working dog, shows his gentler side as he interacts with children in a village in Farah province, Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2012.

“Paris” is quite a popular military working dog:

A coalition force member pets Paris during an Afghan-led security patrol to deny the enemy freedom of movement in Khak-E-Safed in Afghanistan’s Farah province, Oct. 30, 2012.

U.S. Army Sgt. Jared Donnell, left, and U.S. Army Pfc. Shelby Coldiron examine a dog at the veterinary treatment facility on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Jan. 24, 2013. Donnell and Coldiron, animal care specialists, are assigned to Public Health Command District Western Pacific. The veterinary facility, responsible for the health of Andersen’s military working dogs and Defense Department’s working animals, also provides care to privately owned pets.

U.S. Army Sgt. Adam Serella bonds with his military working dog, Nero, as children look on during Operation Clean Sweep in Kandahar City in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, Oct. 3, 2012. Serella, a narcotics patrol detector dog handler, is assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division.

Navy Seaman Conrad Schonacher carries Malibu, a 9-year-old military police working dog nearing her retirement, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Oct. 25, 2012. The military uses working dogs to apprehend suspects, and to detect explosives and narcotics while searching buildings, ships and submarines. Schonacher, a master-at-arms, is assigned to the Naval Station Pearl Harbor’s military police working dog unit.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan Bodge, 366th Security Forces Squadron commander, pins a Commendation Medal on retired military working dog Tanja while the canine’s last handler, Tech. Sgt. Roseann Kelly, looks on at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Jan. 31, 2013. Tanja, a detection and patrol dog, retired after more than 11 years of service and five deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton)

The distinguished career of Jessey, a military working dog with 5th Security Forces Squadron, came to a close after six years of dedicated and honorable service to the Air Force. Jessey served Minot Air Force Base, N.D., for five years and was attached to only three handlers. In June, Jessey‘s annual blood work revealed life threatening bone marrow cancer that led to loss of sight in her right eye barring her from further service. Staff Sgt. Eric Rod was Jessey’s final handler and best friend when she was officially retired from duty Nov. 20, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Secondi, 49th Security Forces Squadron, speaks about his late partner, a military working dog named Roky, during a memorial service at the base chapel at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 11. Secondi was Roky’s handler, and he spoke about his many memories with his canine partner. Roky, a five-year-old German Sheppard, died after a demonstration at Holloman AFB Oct. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Leah Ferrante)

All photos and captions: Department of Defense

  

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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