War dog joins Fox Lake American Legion
Fox Lake’s American Legion Post has a new member with four legs, a bite of about 1,200 pounds of pressure per square inch and a willingness to eat meat on a floor.
Dexter became the first military working dog to receive a membership card for American Legion Post 703 at a ceremony Wednesday. Post 703 Cmdr. Jerry Kandziorski said national Legion officials indicated it may well have been a first in the United States.
“He was a tried and true veteran,” Kandziorski said. “He took his time in service and performed his duty. We think he deserves the recognition that should come to anybody.”
Dexter is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq with his handler, Petty Officer 1st Class Kathleen Ellison. One of the 10-year-old German shepherd’s heroic actions occurred in July 2004, when he detected explosives on the gas tank of a garbage truck that would have targeted a mess hall for U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
About 75 guests watched Dexter’s membership ceremony at the Fox Lake American Legion hall, which was complete with an honor guard and invocation by Post 703 chaplain Bill Gordon.
Iraq war veteran Dexter gets a huge bone at American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake, where he received a membership card at a ceremony Wednesday.
Legion members came bearing gifts for Dexter as well. The canine was a little cool toward a giant bone with a “Welcome Home Dexter” note on it, but he went to town on a 2-pound steak he removed from a platter and ate on the floor.
Ellison, 45, an upstate New York native, said she was in Afghanistan when she recently received word her former partner was in jeopardy of being euthanized in Naples, Italy, because of deteriorating health.
“I said, ‘Well, that is not going to happen. I’ll be there in about three weeks to get him,’ ” said Ellison, who worked with Dexter until May 2005.
Ellison found the Save-a-Vet organization in Lindenhurst, which found Dexter’s new home in Spring Grove. Launched by disabled veteran Danny Scheurer of Round Lake, the group rescues unwanted military and law-enforcement working dogs.
Scheurer said Dexter will live on a property with other retired military and law-enforcement canines where constant care is provided. He said the operation’s owner prefers to be anonymous.
Retired war dog Dexter is escorted Wednesday into the Fox Lake American Legion Post 703 hall by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kathleen Ellison. Dexter became an American Legion member.
Using rest and relaxation time, Ellison left Afghanistan on Christmas Day and picked up Dexter in Naples on Monday. The pair landed Tuesday night in Milwaukee before the war dog’s big day in Fox Lake.
Ellison said she hopes to visit Dexter after her service in Afghanistan ends in about a year. She said she knows he’ll be in good hands at his new home in Spring Grove.
“You hope and pray that there’s going to be a happy ending,” Ellison said. “And there absolutely was. I can’t ask for anything more.”