Archive for the Marine dog teams Category

US Marine Military Working Dog Flapoor Tribute Video

Posted in Marine dog teams, military working dog handlers, Tribute Videos with tags , , , , , on July 12, 2009 by wardogmarine

A Marine Corps Military Working Dog recently passed away. MWD Flapoor is one of our great military working dogs who was on the front lines with our Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His handler, Marine LCpl Brown, made this tribute video so we can all remember one of our beloved K9 heroes.

MWD Flapoor did two tours in Iraq. During his first tour, in 2005-2006, MWD Flapoor and his handler at the time, Cpl Poelart, were providing security at an Iraqi police recruitment center in Ar Ramadi when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the building. The bomb killed dozens of Iraqis wanting to become police and wounded dozens more.   

The bomb set a precedent in that the first military working dog handler, Sgt Adam Cann, was killed in action during Operation Iraqi freedom. MWD Flapoor and his handler were both wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.  Cpl Poelart was eventually honorably discharged while MWD Flapoor recovered from his wounds and went back for a second successful tour in Iraq. Thank you for making this tribute LCpl Brown so we can all remember this amazing dog for his sacrifice and service to our country.


Military police honor K-9 team member

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by wardogmarine
MCB QUANTICO, Va. (June 18) — Santo, a military working dog stationed here at Quantico, was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal at a ceremony on June 18.The same traits that led to his success as a working dog, combined with the ravages of old age, led to the sad decision to euthanize the dog.

His aggressiveness and brute strength make him too risky to be put up for adoption. Santo was euthanized on June 19 due to the extent of his ailments.
MWD Santo
Military Working Dog Santo, a patrol and explosive detection dog with Military Police Company, Security Battalion, received a Navy Achievement Medal June 18 for his extensive work both here and as the first MWD deployed from here. Cpl. Richard Bock, dog handler with Military Police Co., Security Bn., here, accepted the award for Santo. Bock had been taking care of Santo since his former trainer left Security Bn. following he and Santo’s second deployment.

The 129-pound German Shepherd, born in Czechoslovakia, became the first military working dog to deploy from Marine Corps Base Quantico in 2004 when he was sent to Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Dana L. Brown, the kennel master at MilitaryPolice Company, Security Battalion, chose Santo and his handler, Cpl. Donald R. Paldino, because of how well they worked together.

‘‘[Santo] and his handler were an incredible team. They spent four years together and were a solid team all around,” said Brown.

While at MCB Quantico, Santo performed more than 20,000 vehicle searches, 85 health and comfort inspections and 42 building searches. His nose also helped Marines in Iraq when he found a large weapons cache consisting of more than 2,000 7.62 rounds, 20 mortar rounds, 12 rocket propelled grenade rounds and various other bomb-making materials. He earned a reputation as the ‘‘most feared dog in the kennel.”

‘‘I trusted him just as much as I trusted any other Marine. When things go bad people have uncontrollable thoughts [about the situation]; a second of hesitation,” said Paldino, now a civilian working as the director of K9 operations for S.E.A.L. Security Solutions, a private security firm. ‘‘Most dogs don’t have that reaction, there’s no second thought. It’s ‘do it because you’re told to do it, do it because you want to do it and that was the bottom line.’”

Santo’s exceptional sense of smell and aggressive nature gave the Marinesdeployed with him the confidence to complete the mission while patrolling the streets of Fallujah.

‘‘I felt more secure [with Santo] – more importantly – I think the people I was attached to felt more secure,” said Paldino, of Oxford, Mass. ‘‘He had an unbelievable nose; he was really good at finding explosives. He gave everybody a sense of security, not just me.”

A hip injury slowed Santo down after his first deployment but not enough to keep him from returning to Iraq in 2006 to help support the troops in Ramadi.
Cpl. Donald R. Paldino, an MP attached to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, gives his partner, Santo, a 4-year-old Czechoslovakian Shepherd, time to stretch his legs at an outpost near Fallujah, Iraq. Paldino ensures Santo stays cool despite the Iraqi heat, 16 July 2004.

Hip dysplasia, a common cause of arthritis in canine, and lumbosacral disease, a condition where the nerves and spinal cord become compressed as they pass through the lower spine, set in following Santo’s second deployment. The ailments made it difficult for him to move around, said Brown. These injuries kept Santo from deploying again. Also, the same traits that earned Santo his NAM lead to his untimely death.

‘‘We’ve been taking him out and grooming him, getting him some exercise [since his last deployment],” said Cpl. Richard Bock, who has been in charge of taking care of Santo since Paldino left Quantico.

‘‘He deserves this recognition,” said Brown. ‘‘He has been an amazing dog and definitely the most memorable in my 14 years in the military working dog field.”

There is currently an effort to have Santo’s body preserved and added to the K9 exhibit at the Marine Corps History Museum at MCB Quantico.

— Correspondent

Vets Help Keep ‘wardogs’ Ready

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , on June 5, 2009 by wardogmarine

Story and Photos by Cpl. Nicole Lavine

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.  – The saying goes that a dog is a man’s best friend, but in the eyes of the Provost Marshal’s Office dog handlers here, military working dogs are considered fellow warriors. Therefore, Marines treat their military working dogs the way they would a fellow Marine.
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Army Maj. Tod M. Thomas, the western regional surgeon chief, and Army Capt. Amy J. Clark, the Combat Center’s Veterinary Treatment Facility section chief, perform stomach surgery on a military working dog to at the VTF June 2.

One Army veterinarian and two veterinarian technicians at the Combat Center Veterinary Treatment Facility strive to keep these furry companions healthy and combat effective.

Since Marines take care of their own, working dogs are monitored and maintained to assure mission readiness and capability, said Lance Cpl. Patrick S. Shanahan Jr., a PMO military working dog handler.
Lance Cpl. Patrick Shanahan, a military dog handler with the Combat Center’s Provost Marshals Office, takes a moment with his dog, Ayaks, after a preventative stomach surgery was performed at the Combat Center Veterinary Treatment Facility June 2.

“Both of us have jobs to do,” Shanahan, a Baltimore native, said about his dog, Ayaks. “If he’s healthy, he’s more likely to complete his tasks.”

One of the best ways to assure readiness is through preventative medical care, which is provided by the VTF to military working dogs as well as personally owned pets.

“Every decision we make ultimately impacts the kennel master” said Army Maj. Tod M. Thomas, the western regional surgeon chief. “If a dog is not deployable, that may mean the team is not deployable, or the handler may have to train and certify another dog beforehand.”
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Army Spc. Nathan Kuhnle, a veterinary technician with the Combat Center’s the Combat Center Veterinary Treatment Facility prepares to put Ayaks, a military working dog, under anesthesia for a preventative surgery on his stomach June 2.

Thomas and Army Capt. Amy J. Clark, the Veterinary Treatment Facility section chief, performed surgery on Ayaks at the facility Tuesday.

The procedure was done to prevent the specialized search dog from developing a fatal condition known by veterinarians as gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome, or “bloat” which causes the stomach to become twisted and cut off blood flow to vital organs.

“It is the number one preventable cause of death in dogs,” said Thomas, a Somerville, Ala., native. “GDV is responsible for nine percent of deaths in DoD [Department of Defense] dogs each year. This dog we’re doing surgery on is a healthy dog; we are doing this for prevention instead of emergency treatment.
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Army Maj. Tod M. Thomas, the western regional surgeon chief, and Army Capt. Amy J. Clark, the Combat Center’s Veterinary Treatment Facility section chief, perform a preventative surgical procedure on Ayaks, a military police working dog, at the VTF June 2. The procedure is done to many military working dogs to keep them from developing a fatal twisted-stomach syndrome.

“This is a double bang for the buck because there have been no compromises to his blood flow and we maintain the skills we would need to operate on a dog that hasn’t already had this procedure,” Thomas said.

Clark, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, said in addition to supporting PMO and other animal-handling military occupational specialties, providing animal treatment is a personal reward.
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Army Capt. Amy J. Clark, the Combat Center’s Veterinary Treatment Facility section chief, prepares to perform stomach surgery on Ayaks, a military working dog, with the help of Spc. Nathan Kuhnle, a veterinary technician, at the VTF June 2.

“I don’t think I ever thought about doing anything else,” Clark said. “I may have thought about doing this since I was around five.”

It is recommended by the VTF staff that military working dogs go under the knife for this procedure no more than 18 months after arriving at the Combat Center.

Ayaks’ surgery took about two hours and involved making a shallow incision on his stomach and mirroring it to another incision on the inside of his right abdominal area. The two incisions were connected and sewed together so that as they heal, scar tissue will hold the dog’s stomach in place, reducing the chance of a twist.
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Ayaks, a military police working dog, is put under general anesthesia before getting preventative surgery on his stomach at the Combat Center’s Veterinary Treatment Facility June 2.

As Clark and Thomas stitched up Ayaks’ shaved belly, Shanahan stood in the corner of the room with his arms crossed and his face partially hidden behind a surgical mask. Shanahan has been Ayaks’ handler for the past 11 months and has already stood by his companion through a minor dental surgery.

Shanahan said he feels more comforted knowing his dog is at a lower risk of developing bloat or other stomach problems.

“I’ll stay with him through the night at the kennels,” Shanahan said, stroking his partner’s head as he awoke from anesthesia. “I’ll check up on him regularly, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
Ayaks, a military police working dog, is put under general anesthesia before getting preventative surgery on his stomach at the Combat Center’s Veterinary Treatment Facility June 2. The procedure is designed to keep his stomach from twisting and causing a fatal condition in dogs his size and body-type.

The VTF is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and is closed Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Even though the facility will treat personally owned pets through appointments, VTF does not perform emergency procedures.

For pet emergencies, contact the Hi-Desert Animal Hospital in Twentynine Palms at 367-9511 or the Companion Animal Clinic in Yucca Valley at 228-1474. For more information call VTF at 830-6896

Man’s Best Friend

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2009 by wardogmarine

5/8/2009  By
Pvt, Spencer M. Hardwick,
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C.  — It’s always been said, although the originator of the phrase is unknown, that a dog is a man’s best friend.

Corporal James Duck knows the depth of such a statement; his job, better still, his life revolves around this four-legged creature. He is a military police canine handler with the Provost Marshals Office and he spends his days taking care of, and training, his dog, Bancuk. Bancuk is a six-year-old Belgian Malinois and has deployed to Iraq as a working dog three times. Duck and Bancuk deployed together to Fallujah, Iraq as part of II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Bancuk, a military working dog, works aboard the Air Station with handler Cpl. James Duck, a military police dog handler with the Provost Marshals Office, Monday.

“I’ve been here close to three years and I’ve had her for about half that,” Duck said, “I really love her; I consider her one of my best friends. I look at her like I would my child.”

While in garrison, Duck and Bancuk conduct random vehicle checks, health and comfort inspections for barracks rooms and walking patrols. They work here at the Air Station, as well as Laurel Bay, Marine Corps Recruit Deport Parris Island and Naval Hospital Beaufort. Handlers are normally solely responsible for their dog. However, sometimes other Marines help out around the kennel.

A handler’s duty overseas, however, is a totally different story.

“She was with me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Duck said. “That dog did not leave my side the entire time I was there. Every patrol I went on, every cache sweep … she stayed with me.”

Based in Fallujah, Duck and Bancuk frequently ventured out to various forward operating bases to conduct sweeps for weapons caches, improvised explosive devices and house searches. They worked with various units in the province, including Navy SEAL’s and Company F, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He cared for her, fed her and groomed her. She even slept in the cot with him, diligently watching over her master and his gear.

“Every time I hit the rack she would jump up and sleep on my feet,” Duck said. “She lived with me for seven months. This one time, I had some food sitting on my rack and I walked away to get some water. When I came back, the food was missing and she was trying to give me this innocent look like she didn’t eat it. It was pretty funny; I couldn’t stay mad at her. It was really nice having her with me. It was like having one of your best friends on deployment with you.”

Having an animal at your side constantly in a combat zone paves the way for mixed emotions as there are good and bad experiences to be had.

“It’s like having a best friend and a newborn child at the same time,” explained Duck. “They offer companionship that is irreplaceable but they also need attention and care almost constantly. I was on a patrol one time near one of the F.O.B’s outside of Fallujah checking out hot spots some choppers warned us about and we came across this irrigation ditch. It was probably two or three feet wide and had a concrete slab on top of it.  While we’re walking across this thing, she decides to jump off the slab; the problem was that I was holding her leash. So, when she jumped, I had sixty pounds of weight pulling me down and I smacked headfirst onto the concrete. I was mad at the time but its kind of funny looking back on it now. That deployment was full of situations like that.”

Their working relationship will end soon, however as Duck prepares for his upcoming end of active service date. Bancuk will likely go to a new handler because she already has established habits and she already knows what’s going on, according to Duck.

“I am not looking forward to having to leave her behind at all,” explains Duck. “I’m ready to move on with my life but I love that dog. I really wish I could adopt her and take her with me. I don’t really know how to explain it but there’s a certain bond that grows between a handler and a working dog. I’m going to miss her.”

So, as Duck moves on with his life and goes forth to do great things, Banuck will remain here, continuing to serve the Marine Corps as a faithful military working dog and a Marine’s best friend.

Military Working Dog Lex Video-Interview with Cpl Lee’s Parents

Posted in fallen handlers, Marine dog teams, Military stories, military working dog handlers, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by wardogmarine

Here is a fantastic interview with fallen Marine Corps military working dog handler Cpl Dustin Lee’s parents.  The Lee’s were allowed to adopt their son’s military working dog Lex after he gave the ultimate price while serving in Iraq, the first time a family of a fallen handler was allowed to adopt their surviving military working dog. MWD Lex was injured and even received a purple heart while serving with Cpl Lee in Iraq. This video is very touching and it is great to see both Lex and the Lee family enjoying their life together. MWD Lex is a very special dog, I wish him and the Lee family all the best. Semper Fidelis

Military Working Dog Lex, Patriot Pet Interview- Army AirForce Exchange Video- Pentagon TV ©AAFES 2009

Bonds with K-9 co-workers hard to break

Posted in Marine dog teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2009 by wardogmarine


By Cindy Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Tuesday, January 6, 2009

All four paws have left the ground, but military working dog Rexo maintains his grip on Lance Cpl. Arnold Apel’s arm during aggression training at the Marine K-9 kennel on Kadena Air Base. Apel, 19, is a military working dog handler from Milmay, N.J.

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — When Cpl. Kate Stanford arrived on Okinawa five months ago, she was assigned to Meister, a 5-year-old military working dog.

She immediately began building a bond with him.

“He kind of looked like, ‘Who are you? Where is my daddy?’ ” Stanford, 21, from Hubbard, Ohio, recalled of their first meeting at the Marine Provost Marshal’s Office K-9 kennel on Kadena Air Base.

Fortunately, the German shepherd is carefree, and it’s been “easy to build rapport with him,” she said. It also helped that his last handler was still on Okinawa and talked with her about Meister’s personality and quirks — such as a penchant for nipping at his handler’s ankles.

But it’s not always so easy for dogs when they change handlers or their handler goes on leave. Some even sink into depression.

kadena2Rexo, a military working dog, lays quietly at Lance Cpl. Ariel Soto’s feet after a training session. Even when these military working dogs are at rest, people should not come up and try to pat them as the dogs could misinterpret this as an attack on their handlers, dog handlers advise.

All the new handler can do, Stanford said, is train and play with the dog. It’s time well spent because it creates trust in their own as well as their dog’s capabilities, she said.

That bonding time is especially important at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, where all airmen serve one-year, unaccompanied tours.

Because of the high turnover at the Spartan, remote location on Korea’s west coast, military dog handlers have to find new ways to bond with their charges in a shorter time, according to an American Forces Network news report.

In the AFN report, dog handler Staff Sgt. Charles Eubanks explained the process they use to build that bond.

“We’ll go through what we call the rapport week, where there’s no commands. You just go out and walk the dogs, play fetch with them, just kind of build that relationship and that bond between the dog and the handler,” he said.

From there, Eubanks said, handlers will work on basic obedience and patrol and detection before actually going to work.

The dog handlers say the key issue is trust.

The dogs are used primarily in explosives and narcotics detection but also undergo aggression training to learn to pursue and subdue suspects.

Handlers literally trust their lives on their dogs’ noses, particularly with explosive detection dogs, Stanford said.

“That leash is only six feet. If he decides to step on [a bomb], you’re in trouble,” she said.

Cpl. Kate Stanford, 21, from Hubbard, Ohio, plays with Meister at the Marine K-9 kennel on Kadena Air Base Wednesday. Stanford has only been Meister’s handler for about five months, but already they have developed a pretty good bond, Stanford said.

It’s not easy working with new dogs. Each has its own personality, and what works with one dog might not work with another dog, she said.

But most military dogs have had multiple handlers and know what is happening when they get a new one, she added.

Just like a child, a dog will test a new handler to see what it can get away with, Stanford said.

Sometimes, dog and handler just don’t click. When that happens, the dog is reassigned.

“You don’t try to force the relationship on the dog,” Stanford said.

She was assigned a second dog, Darra, about two months ago, and it’s been a little harder to build that relationship, she said.

Darra had deployed to Iraq with her previous handler. That created a tight bond between Darra and that handler, which means Stanford will have to work harder with her.

Lance Cpl. Chase Paustian, 24, from Aurora, Ill., takes a few moments to rub Waldo’s stomach after a training session at the Marine K-9 kennel. Paustian and Waldo recently returned from a seven-month deployment together to Anbar province, Iraq. Being there together only tightened their bond, Paustian said.

Lance Cpl. Chase Paustian, 24, from Aurora, Ill., knows about the closer ties developed during a deployment. He and his dog, Waldo, recently returned to Okinawa from seven months in Anbar province, Iraq.

Waldo, a Belgian Malinois, “is a great dog” to work with, he said.

“He’ll work until he just can’t move anymore. He’s always just a happy dog all the time,” Paustian said.

In Iraq, the two went everywhere together except the chow hall, Paustian said. The exchange, haircuts, watching movies in the lounge; Waldo even slept with him.

Waldo also gets jealous if Paustian talks to other dogs, staring out of his kennel as if his handler were cheating on him, Paustian said with a smile.

“It was hard to come back and not be together all the time,” he said.

He has tried to ease Waldo back into kennel life by spending as much time with him as possible during the day, he said.

But it will be “really hard” on both of them when Paustian is transferred to a new duty station.

“It’s going to be like your kid going to college,” he said. “It’s going to be tough.”

Stars and Stripes’ T.D. Flack contributed to this report.

k5Rexo, a military working dog, lays quietly at Lance Cpl. Ariel Soto’s feet after a training session. Even when these military working dogs are at rest, people should not come up and try to pat them as the dogs could misinterpret this as an attack on their handlers, dog handlers advise.

Kaneohe Marine Base K9 Unit

Posted in Marine dog teams, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by wardogmarine

Great video here about the Marine Corps k9 unit at the Kaneohe Marine Base.