Friday, November 11, 2011
A Canine Salute to Our Country's Dog Military Heroes!
First I want to salute two of my favorite Military Veterans. My people-dad JIM LANE who served bravely in the Viet Nam war. Thanks JIM for your great service to the USA! And my TV Dad, RICHARD HOLCOMB who launched my dog-personal TV career..who also served bravely and selflessly in Viet Nam. Thanks RICHARD for your service! AND a DOGGONE BIG THANKS to ALL the US heroes...whether alive or dead, whether retired or active, whether here or in a far away land....YOU ARE HEROES to all of us Americans safe at home. Thanks for your bravery and your personal sacrifices!
I also want to BARK OUT a big Veterans Day salute to my SECRET MILITARY PERSON currently serving overseas. Recently Jill was flying on a Delta flight and the crew on board shouted out a request to the passengers to send a written Holiday Thanks to our active overseas Military service people. SO.....even while my paws were firmly planted on the ground in New Mexico....Jill wrote a note on my behalf to a special MILITARY service-person and passed it back to the Delta Flight Attendant to pass along to YOU! I hope you get this....and that you know that all of us home here in the USA wish you a safe holiday overseas....AND some tasty turkey too! I do hope to meet you in DOG-PERSON one day soon so you will no longer be my SECRET MILITARY PERSON! Bein' the travelin' dog I am...why I would even cross the highways and byways of America to meet you! What a doggone grand reunion that would be..eh?
In the meantime...on this Veterans Day in 2011....we THANK YOU all!
And as I was penning this salute, I received this e-mail from Dr. J of Top Dog ...with a very special military salute to my CANINE COUSINS serving in the Military. This article is just too doggone good not to share...so thanks to Dr. J for sharing this piece...thanks to Rebecca Frankel for writing the piece..and thanks to Pets For Patriots for the great work you are doing with our military canines and service people! You are all TOP DOG in my books!
The Military's Canine Forces: Honoring the Dogs that Fight for our Country
Hello Travelin' Jack & Jill,
Dogs have been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers for more than 100 years, seeing combat in the Civil War and World War I. But their service was informal; only in 1942 were canines officially inducted into the U.S. Army. Today, they're a central part of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- as of early 2010 the U.S. Army had 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed (the largest canine contingent in the world). And these numbers will continue to grow as these dogs become an ever-more-vital military asset. This Veterans Day, let's not only thank and remember our human veterans for their service, but also our four-legged companions. Scroll down to see images of these heroic service dogs in action and be sure to read the stories that go along with them. Once you are done reading these heroic and heartwarming stories, please turn your attention to the Pets for Patriots program listed at the bottom of this email.
I hope all of you have a happy and memorable Veterans Day. -Dr. J
Staff Sgt. Philip Mendoza and his military working dog, Rico, wearing specially made goggles, train aboard a helicopter at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
A U.S. soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his dog leap off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior on March 1.
The war dog retirement plan: For some dogs, the days of parachuting out of planes and tours in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan end sooner than others - whether it's from fatigue, a debilitating injury from battle, or a personality that's just not cut out for the rigors of war. But the military works hard to find all these dogs good adoptive homes. Irano, an 11-year-old retired military dog, is a good example. A former explosives detection dog, Irano has a debilitating disease called degenerative lumbosacral stenosis and has lost most of the function in his hind legs. But the Air Force found a good home for him with Army Sgt. Jeffrey Souder -- who has even built him a custom wheelchair. "As long as the dog is with the handler, he's loving life."
Thrill seekers: The first U.S. dog to take a "military parachute free fall" was Pal, a 46-pound German shepherd, in 1969. He made that jump with Sergeant First Class Jesse Mendez, a scout dog trainer during the Vietnam War.
But do dogs like leaping out of planes and helicopters? Apparently, they enjoy it more than you would. One handler recently told the Times of London, "Dogs don't perceive height difference.... They're more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we're on the way down, that doesn't matter and they just enjoy the view.... [The dog] has a much cooler head than most recruits."
As former Marine and dog handler Mike Dowling put it in an interview, "As long as the dog is with the handler, he's loving life." Above U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Chris LaLonde, center, holds his military working dog, Sgt. Maj. Fosco, while jumpmaster Kirby Rodriguez, behind them, deploys his parachute during the military's first tandem airborne jump with a canine from an altitude of 12,500 feet onto Gammon Parade Field on Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., on Sept. 18, 2009.
Above Lance Cpl. Daniel Franke, a dog handler attached to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, enjoys a quiet moment in Towrah Ghundey, Afghanistan, on June 11, 2010.
The difference a dog makes: No matter how war dogs are involved in battle, the military's canine forces are doing more than their fair share. There are already plenty of legendary war dogs to celebrate: the three stray mutts living on a base in Afghanistan who wrestled a suicide bomber to the ground, forcing him to detonate before ever reaching the barracks where 50 soldiers lay sleeping; the fatally wounded handler who called for his dog with his last breath; the bomb-sniffing dog who, after his trainer was killed in Afghanistan, succumbed shortly after of a "broken heart."
Like other handlers, Dowling knows this from experience. His dog Rex was "a great moral boost, a symbol of home. You come back to base [to these dogs] that are so freakin' loyal -- a dog who is waiting for you, who will play with you because they love you.... There are so many benefits."
In August 2010, The Register, a British online tech publication, reported that "top-secret, super-elite U.S. Navy SEAL special forces are to deploy heavily armoured bulletproof dogs equipped with infrared nightsight cameras and an 'intruder communication system' able to penetrate concrete walls." The article also reported that the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group had "awarded an $86,000 contract to Canadian firm K9 Storm Inc. for the supply of 'Canine Tactical Assault Vests' for wear by SEAL dogs." The K9 catalogue boasts an array of high-tech canine devices, from storm lights to long lines and leads to an assortment of vests -- assault, aerial insertion, and patrol-SWAT -- which are rated from "excellent" to "good" in protecting the animal from harm due to everything from bullets to ice picks.
In the photo above, Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler uses an over-the-shoulder carry to hold his dog, Argo II, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on March 4. The exercise helps build trust, loyalty, and teamwork.
Fierce protectors: Military dogs and their handlers often form deep bonds -- it's an essential part of the canine-handler relationship that is specifically built into their training regimen. The personal attachments are often so intense that it can take weeks of training before a dog can begin working with a new handler. Not only are these dogs fierce assault weapons, they are loyal guardians. When Private First Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk's bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone -- including Rusk's fellow Marines -- who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live with Rusk's family.
Above, U.S. sergeant Matthew Templet and his bomb-sniffing dog Basco search for the explosives in an abandoned house in Haji Ghaffar village during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province on Dec. 27, 2010.
The nose knows: A canine's olfactory powers are well known -- dogs are now even being used to sniff out rare types of cancer -- and that natural ability hasn't gone unnoticed by the U.S. military. When President Barack Obama traveled to Asia last fall, an elite team of 30 bomb-sniffing dogs were part of his security entourage. (All in all, it was a pretty cushy assignment: The dogs stayed in 5-star hotels and rode in vehicles tailored to their comfort and safety.) More remarkable still are vapor-wake dogs. Scientists at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine have genetically bred and specially trained canines to not only detect stationary bombs or bomb-making materials, but identify and alert their handler to the moving scent of explosive devices and materials left behind in the air, say, as a suicide bomber walked through a crowd -- all without ever tipping off the perpetrator. While not as expensive as some military-trained dogs, the cost of breeding and training these dogs cost is not cheap at around $20,000 each.
Above, U.S. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 6th regiment, Charlie Company relax with their bomb-sniffing dogs, Books and Good One, in Huskers camp on the outskirts of Marjah in central Helmand on Jan. 25, 2010.
A canine surge: Over the last two years, there has been an effort to rapidly increase the number IED detection dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, the Marine Corps has 170 bomb-sniffing dogs, but has plans to deploy as many as 600 dogs to their program before September 2012. In late 2010 the Marines have also awarded a contract to American K-9 Interdiction for "as much as $35 million" to train and kennel their dogs. In February, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos stated that he'd like to see "a dog with every patrol."
Written by Rebecca Frankel.
On a side note, I would like to draw your attention to a fantastic not-for-profit organization that I have recently stumbled upon. They are called Pets for Patriots and they connect adult and other at-risk shelter pets with service and veteran members of the U.S. military to the benefit of pet and person. Their vision is to end animal homelessness by supporting the permanent placement of these dogs (and cats) with every available, able and willing military family in the United States. I urge you to take a look at their website by clicking on their logo below. Read their stories, view their pictures and if at all possible, help their cause. Once again, have a very happy and memorable Veterans Day! -Dr. J Top Dog Health