Archive for the Army Dog teams Category

Fort Huachuca honors military working dog SSgt Britt

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen dogs, Tribute Videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by wardogmarine

Britt, military working dog, earns last rites befitting hero
Arizona Daily Star ^ | Carol Ann Alaimo 

Britt the bomb-sniffing dog, who served overseas in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, will get a funeral befitting a hero at Fort Huachuca. The ashes of the Army canine, recently put down due to neurological illness, will be interred behind the kennels that served as his home base as a military color guard looks on.

The 11-year-old German shepherd was euthanized on Sept. 11 and will be buried Dec. 3 at the Southern Arizona Army post.

Following tradition, taps will be played and a flag folded and presented to Sgt. Megan Hobson, Britt’s last handler.

“We lost a fallen comrade,” said Hobson, 24, a Utah native serving with the fort’s 18th Military Police Detachment.

“He may have been a piece of Army equipment, but I loved that dog,” said Hobson, who was with Britt when he died.

The German shepherd held the rank of staff sergeant — military dogs always outrank their handlers by one stripe, to discourage ill treatment of a superior. He had several Army medals to his credit and had worked as an explosives detector dog since 1999.

Overseas, he took part in numerous missions that likely saved lives, officials said. On patrol in Iraq, he unearthed weapons caches and makeshift bombs, and even collared an insurgent by chasing him down.

Hobson, Britt’s handler for three months, arranged for the canine to spend his final days in the Huachuca Mountains doing his favorite things.

“They let me have a couple days with him where he was just a dog, he didn’t have to work,” she recalled.

She bought him doggie delicacies — sirloin steak with mashed potatoes from a Texas Roadhouse restaurant — and they played fetch with his favorite squeaky toy.

Britt had a reputation for nipping people — “love bites” as the handlers call them — but Hobson, a rarity as a female handler, said she never saw that side of him. “I think he needed a woman in his life,” she said.

Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton said the fanfare at an Army dog’s funeral is not quite the same as honors rendered for a human.

Still, she said in a statement, the service aims to pay respects to “a different kind of soldier.”

“Britt served his country with loyalty and distinction,” she said.
● Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or at

Video of Army Military Working Dog team in Iraq

Posted in Army Dog teams, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2008 by wardogmarine

I love watching the team work together and then hear the handler’s perspective of being a handler. 

Army Military Working Dog Unit video-K9

Posted in Army Dog teams, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by wardogmarine

“Gotta love this job”

Soldier, dog more than a team

Posted in Army Dog teams, military working dog handlers, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine

Great article here from The Mercury about military working dogs, specifically those at Fort Riley, Kansas. 

Paula Nardella, Fort Riley PAO-Article found in The Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas

It took Staff Sgt. Rico a few minutes to pinpoint the location of the C-4 explosive. Once he did, he alerted his team members to the potential threat by taking a seat. He was rewarded with a red chew toy, which he promptly chomped down on and then scratched the tattooed serial number on his ear.

  Rico is a bomb dog, and is handled by Sgt. Aaron Hill from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion.

  Training for Rico and Hill typically begins around 5 a.m. and consists of problems to solve. The problems are hidden explosives that the dogs have to find. Explosives, such as C-4, normally are used, but when lightning strikes Fort Riley, the handlers use a chlorate kit, which gives off the same kind of, smell as other explosives, just not as strong.
  The task of planting the explosives goes to Staff Sgt. Lawson Wooten, who is the detachment’s training manager.
  ”I always tell them, ‘I’m planting like I’m trying to blow you up,”’ Wooten said.
  Wind also plays a part in the training. If the wind is blowing toward the dog, it can smell explosives sometimes from miles away. If the wind is blowing the wrong direction, however, the dog may not smell the explosive at all.
  ”Dogs have 220 million olfactory sensors in the nose, as opposed to our maybe 20 million,” Hill said.
  Future military working dogs are either purchased at around 1 year of age, or are bred from the puppy program. The puppy program is where breeders breed the puppies, and begin small steps of training as the puppy grows, with items such as tug toys.
  Most canines are typically retired around 10 to 12 years old, when their noses begin to get less sensitive to odors, such as the smell of explosives. After retirement, many of the dogs are adopted out and become house pets.
  Not all dogs find explosives, however. Some dogs are used to find narcotics, and other dogs are what are known as specialized search dogs. A new designation of dog is the combat tracker. Combat trackers are trained to start from an explosion’s detonation point and trace the scent of the person who set the explosive.
  ”They do all this for the love of their handler and the joy of that toy,” Wooten said.

  When soldiers deploy with their dogs, not only does that soldier have to take his combat gear, but also all of the dog’s equipment. Water bowls, food dishes, collars, leashes, play toys and reward toys are just some of the things soldiers must take for their dogs. Dog handlers are sent to Kuwait with a two-man team to help with the gear.
  ”I had 14 pieces of luggage,” Hill said.
  During the deployment, the dog and the handler sometimes live in the same room, which strengthens the bond between human and dog.
  According to Hill, cold packs like medics carry are an invaluable tool for a dog handler in a hot climate. He discovereed this during a mid-day mission in Iraq, when Rico began showing signs of heat stress. Hill opened two of the packs and put them against Rico’s body where his arteries were located. This helped Rico cool off and avoid a heat stroke.

  Hill said Rico is his best friend, and proves it by doing anything he can to make sure Rico is happy and healthy.
  He also hates to see Rico have to be sedated, like he was when he underwent a medical exam at Kansas State University to remove several cysts. A handler never really knows if their dog is going to come out of sedation, Hill said. One preventive action Hill takes to keep Rico from another sedation is brushing the dog’s teeth, he said.
  ”I can’t be away from him for more than five days, at the most,” Hill said.
  Rico is an independent dog, Hill said, and he worries that if he is gone too long, Rico will forget about him.
  Wooten said that emotions ”go down leash,” meaning that many times, the way a handler is feeling will affect their dog, and vice versa.
  Hill said that this ”down leash” idea is how Rico knows when he doesn’t feel well. When Hill is sick, he said, Rico doesn’t pull him as hard — unless there is a rabbit involved.
  Rico also knows when his handler is cold, and will curl up with Hill to share his body heat with him.

Saying goodbye
  ”I cried like a baby when I dropped my first dog,” said Spc. Timothy Connelly, a dog handler with the 97th MP Bn.
  Since bomb dogs are considered equipment that belongs to Fort Riley, unless they are deployed as a team, the dogs remain at Fort Riley no matter where their handlers go.
  ”When we get orders to go someplace else, you say your last goodbyes to your pup and hop on a plane,” Wooten said.
  Goodbyes also happen when a working dog retires or is euthanized. Upon retiring, many former military dogs can be adopted out. When medical problems arise, depending on the severity of the problem, there may be no choice except to put the dog down.
  ”That’s, I think, the worst part, when you have to put a dog down, especially a hard-working one,” Wooten said.
  Hill agreed, and told the story of a dog he worked with who had to be euthanized.
  ”I took him in and I was loving on him. They gave him the first shot to calm him down and put him into a sleep, and then they gave him the other one. I’m laying on him, and I can feel his heart beating and he’s breathing and I’m rubbing him, playing with him and then she gave him that other shot, which euthanized him. His chest didn’t rise and fall, his heart quit beating, and they literally had to pull me off of that dog, cause I just bawled,” he said.
  Hill had the dog cremated, and Marco now stays at home with Hill in a mahogany box.
  Wooten remembered he had a dog for three months and then found out the dog was going blind.
  ”They had to calm me down, because I new what that meant,” he said.

Dog tales from down range
    ”We’ve done air assaults,” Hill said. When doing an air assault with a dog, the dog gets attached to the handler and they go down the rope together. According to Hill, the problem is that since dogs don’t have opposable thumbs and can’t slide down the rope themselves, they have to be pushed out of the plane or helicopter and then followed by their handler.
  ”I was lucky I didn’t fall off the rope and die,” said Hill, laughing as he remembered Rico thrashing below him.
  Wooten remembered when Hill and Rico first redeployed to Fort Riley in December after serving in Iraq. On the return trip to the United States, Rico’s crate got broken due to cold weather. Since Wooten didn’t know about the broken crate, he brought a vehicle that did not have a built-in cage, and had to ride to the kennels by himself with Rico who sat in the back of the Explorer.
  ”I remember thinking, ‘Rico is going to eat me,” Wooten said.

Tribute Video to Military Working Dog Mike

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen handlers, Military Working Dogs, Tribute Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2008 by wardogmarine

Sgt. Michelle Colon, a soldier with 209th MP Detatchment in Fort Benning, GA, had the unfortunate circumstance of losing her MWD(military working dog) Mike this past summer. Her “battle buddy” Sgt. Tabitha Pindell, stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska 28th MP detachment, made this great tribute video for Sgt Colon and MWD Mike who were deployed to Camp Bucca , Iraq. 

Handlers become so attached to their dogs that they will often  make various tributes to them such as paintings, a collage, a shadowbox, and a video like the one below. Losing an MWD is more than just losing an effective weapon or tool, it like losing another brave soldier. You see them everyday, the dogs have personalities, and they bring overall morale up with the soldiers. MWD Mike had a final rank of Staff Sergeant because his handler’s rank is Sergeant. Handlers give their dogs one rank higher than themselves so that they always treat them with respect. His ID number is K494 meaning that number is tattooed inside one of his ears, it is like the dog’s own social security number in the military. This particular MWD is a fantastic looking dog. It is a Belgain Malinois, not a Shepherd. Rest easy Mike, your work here is done.  

SSG Mike K494
April 2005-June 2008

R.I.P. Sgt. 1st Class​ Grego​ry A. Rodri​guez-Army fallen military working dog handler

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen handlers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2008 by wardogmarine

I woke up this morning to see that another United States Army military working dog handler was killed in action in Afghanistan this past Tuesday, September 2nd. Army Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodriguez from Weidman, Michigan.

I was able to get in touch with his wife, Laura, and wish her my condolences. She mentioned that everyone knew him as “Rod” and that “150” was the nickname he used on his Jeep Forum website. She also mentioned that his specialized search dog “Jacko” did not make it as well. To Rod and Jacko, thank you for your service and making the ultimate sacrifice, you are true heroes and patriots. To Laura and family, God bless.


A soldier from Weidman died Tuesday in combat in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced late Friday.

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodriguez, 35, a military policeman, was killed in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan, when his patrol came under small-arms fire, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.

Rodriguez was a dog handler for the military police. He was assigned to the K-9 unit of the 527th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, Ansbach, Germany, according to the Pentagon.

There was no word on the fate of Rodriguez’ dog.

According to postings on Internet forums, Rodriguez, known to his friends as “150,” loved Jeeps.

His wife’s MySpace page Friday night showed a slide show of Rodriguez with his family, his dog, of the two in action in Afghanistan, and included a photo of a makeshift military memorial erected in his honor. It also included a blog entry of a poem titled “Guardians of the Night,” celebrating the strength and courage of a military working dog.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Ana Kalay is in central Afghanistan, in a remote, mountainous region about halfway between Kabul, the capitol, and Kandahar.

Rodriguez is the 18th member of the military with Michigan ties to die in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly seven years ago.

His wife made this fantastic slide show of him if you want to view more photos, click here:

Slide show for Sgt 1st Class Gregory Rodriguez

Visit the “Fallen Handlers” category to see other military working dog handlers who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Military working dog receives Army Achievement Medal

Posted in Army Dog teams, dog awards, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by wardogmarine

During his deployment, Zzarr uncovered more than 5,000 pounds of explosives used in the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices. (Photo by Master Sgt. Tim Volkert)

Multinational Division – North PAO 

MOSUL, Iraq On his last day of duty at Forward Operating Base Marez, Sgt.1st Class Zzarr seemed excited with the Soldiers hovering around him at the 3d Armored Cavalry 

Regimental headquarters June 5. 

Zzarr was about to receive and Army Achievement Medal, a reward for his service to the Army during his deployment. Zzarr was responsible for discovering about 6,000 pounds of explosives in hidden caches around Mosul. 

Staff Sgt. Kevin Dee, Zzarr’s handler, puts the K-9 through his paces at Fort Eustis.(Photo by Keith Whitteaker)

As the Soldiers stood at attention and the orders were posted, Col. Michael Bills, commander of the 3d ACR, bent down and pinned the AAM on Zzarr‟s collar. Instead of a salute, Zzarr enthusiastically offered a paw, wagged his tail, and wanted to play. 

Zzarr, a three-year old Dutch Sheppard, is a military working dog assigned to the 221st 

Military Police Detachment stationed at Fort Eustis, Va.  

The dog‟s trainer, Staff Sgt. Kevin Dee, said Zzarr specializes in searching for explosives. During the past year in Mosul, the dog was credited with finding three major caches, one of which included 1,200 pounds of explosives that was going to be used in a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. 

The dog‟s discoveries have saved countless lives by “finding things the (human) eye can‟t find,” he said.  

“The military working dogs are extremely well trained and adept at discovering these caches. The „finds‟ remove these weapons from the hands of the enemy and decrease the resources they have to use against us,” said Maj. Parker Frawley, planning officer for the 3d ACR. Frawley‟s mother, Starline Nunley, and the Gem City Dog Club in Dayton, Ohio, also recognized the value of the dogs on the battlefield and have been sending a variety of items for the working dogs to ensure they have all the necessities and some creature comforts while deployed. 


Zzarr was one of 15 military working dogs in 3d ACR‟s area of operations that work daily with the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces to find hidden explosives and other weapons and keep them from making it to the streets. 

 “These MWDs have been extremely useful in our daily combat operations,” said Capt. William Nance, commander of Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d ACR. Nance worked with Zzarr and other MWDs regularly as the Heavy Company, 3rd Squadron, 3d ACR commander during the first six months of the regiment‟s deployment to Iraq. “They can cover more ground, faster than human search teams and have been instrumental in clearing sites for COP builds, as well as quickly clearing a building during a raid. This speed allows us to spend less time on the objective, keeping everyone safer.  

“That and they‟re a lot of fun to have around the CP before and after missions,” Nance added.  

With the award pinned on his collar, Zzarr received a multitude of congratulatory pats on the head from the Soldiers. This attention is well-deserved for the dog. After all, Zzarr is the one digging around in the dirt and roaming through buildings looking for explosives, said Dee. 

“He does all the work. I have all the fun,” Dee said.  

Military dog makes US Soldier scream like a little girl

Posted in Army Dog teams, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by wardogmarine

This is a short compilation video of a soldier spending time with the military working dog unit at Camp Victory Iraq. The screaming like a little girl part is at .38 seconds into the video. It’s funny because a lot people will be macho and say they are not afraid of catching a working dog. But when they see that dog coming after them like a bullet, it can cause funny reactions. 

Soldiers, faithful partners working toward certification at Fort Polk

Posted in Army Dog teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2008 by wardogmarine

By Kelly Moore

Fort Polk, La. -

Soldiers and their K-9 counterparts have been working toward certification during the past week at Fort Polk.

The teams are paired up and train together for certification before being deployed. The teams certifying this week were performing duties including explosive detection, drug detection and apprehension. The trainers and their dogs work exclusively together so they know each other in a way that enables them to perform flawlessly in their execution of duties.

“The longer you are together (soldier and k-9) the stronger your bond becomes,” said Spc. Christopher Hallisy said. “It’s like being married, the longer you are together, the more you learn about each other and you become a better team.”

The soldiers who were going through the certification process explained that they begin training with their dogs when the dogs are about eighteen months old. The first few weeks are spent building a rapport with their dog.

By Leader Photo by Kelly Moore Spc. Katrina Kurz along with Spike are working toward their certification as a Military Working Dog team. Once they are certified they will be eligible for deployment.

“We spend time playing, washing and walking our dogs,” said Spc. Timothy Conley.
Soon after trust between the soldier and dog has been built, the pair begin training in earnest. The dogs are trained to detect bombs and drugs and to apprehend suspects at the order of their trainer.

Once, Hallisy’s dog became ill in Iraq, he said. Hallisy performed CPR on his partner until the dog could be removed to a hospital for rehabilitation before being returned back to duty.

Dogs and their trainers do not stay together for their entire career, said one soldier, who explained that the dogs are assigned to a unit, like a piece of equipment. When trainers are given orders to transfer to another unit or installation, they have to leave their dogs behind and start the training process over with another dog.

Hallisy had to leave his dog behind when he moved to another installation, but will take a piece of him where ever he goes: on Hallisy’s left hand is an interesting tattoo. 
“I had him put his paw on an ink pad then to paper,” Hallisy explained. “Then I had it tattooed to my hand.” 

By Leader Photo by Kelly Moore Spc. Timothy Conley along with his dog spent much of Tuesday morning working through the paces for certification. They are pictured as they search vehicles for bombs. 

Though the dogs are working dogs with missions that have saved countless lives, the relationship between dog and trainer is vitally important.

Spc. Katrina Kurz and Spike are one such team. She and Spike have been training together for a mere month, but with hard work and patience they were ready to certify.

“It is all about teamwork,” she said. “We work together. The hardest part of the job is learning to be a team. They don’t speak the same language as we do, so we have to learn what they are telling us.” Spc. Rachelle Schmidt has been working with three-month-old Amigo, a Belgian Malinous. She said that in the beginning it was often frustrating because Amigo, nicknamed “Eeyore,” is slow and never gets into any hurry.

“I am a pretty fast paced person but Amigo just goes at his own pace, no matter what,” said Schmidt. “For me the most difficult part of the training has been to slow down and learn to read his body language.”

The dogs are trained on a reward system. During Tuesday’s event each time the dog was successful, it was allowed to play with its kong, a toy the dogs are allowed to play with only when they perform specific tasks. 
The certification of the teams will take more than a week. The teams will have to locate bombs and  drugs and clear buildings of people who may be in danger, searching warehouses and luggage.
They will also perform in obedience training, including on and off leash and an obstacle course.

Throughout the training the teamwork between the dogs and their handlers will be graded to ensure the communication between both.
“This is a great job, we get paid to play with dogs all day,” said Schmidt.

This article can be viewed by clicking here:Leesville Daily Leader

Man’s Best Friend: Combat Stress Dog Helps Put Soldiers ‘At Ease’

Posted in Army Dog teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , on May 8, 2008 by wardogmarine
Sgt. 1st Class Boe, a therapeutic dog being used in Iraq to help Soldiers relieve stress, sits in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division Operations Center, Jan. 10.  Photo by Spc. Richard Rzepka, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs.
Sgt. 1st Class Boe, a therapeutic dog being used in Iraq to help Soldiers relieve stress, sits in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division Operations Center, Jan. 10. Photo by Spc. Richard Rzepka, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs.

COB SPEICHER — Ever had a Sergeant 1st Class lick your face? For many Soldiers here, these are not freakish events, but regular occurrences.  Sgt. 1st Class Boe is the newest member of the 85th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control unit at COB Speicher, and is one of two K-9 therapists being used by the Army to help prevent and control the stresses of living in a combat zone.

Along with Staff Sgt. Mike Calaway, an occupational therapy assistant with the Combat Stress Control unit, Boe is part of a new Army program, which encourages Soldiers to interact with dogs in order to help relieve the psychological stresses of war.

The dogs, two Black Labrador Retrievers, were donated and trained by America’s VetDogs and are the first dogs to be used in a combat zone for therapeutic purposes. The organization is part of the larger non-profit group, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, which has been helping provide guide dogs for the blind since the 1940s. Recognizing a growing need for specialized service dogs for America’s fighting forces, VetDogs recently initiated the therapy dog concept.

The dogs are intended to provide comfort and relaxation through physical interaction, whether it’s a game of fetch or just a peaceful few minutes of petting.

“I felt more relaxed after being able spend some time with her,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brenda Rich, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Medical Operations. “For a few minutes it was just me and the dog and nothing in this environment seemed to matter.”

Calaway spent two weeks training with Boe in New York City to develop a bond, before the pair was sent to Iraq to take on the challenge of helping Soldiers cope with a deployment.

“She’s a very well trained and very intelligent animal,” said Calaway, who recently introduced Boe to Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at COB Speicher. “So far we’ve had an outstanding response from Soldiers,” he said, “whether they need help or not.”

Deployments can create several different kinds of stressors, said Calaway, and Boe helps to break the ice, allowing Soldiers to open up about ongoing issues in their lives.

The major types of stress deployed Soldiers must deal with include operational stress, homefront stress and sleeping issues, said Calaway.

“The Soldiers absolutely love her,” said Maj. Charles Kuhlman, 1st BCT Chaplain.

Often Soldiers on outlying bases will befriend stray dogs for companionship and to get a feel for home, said Kuhlman. “Dogs make a huge difference in morale.”

(Story by Spc. Rick L. Rzepka, 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs)

Original Article found here- MNF-IRAQ.COM


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