Archive for army

‘Walter Reed’ for combat dogs opens at Texas base

Posted in Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2008 by wardogmarine

By MICHELLE ROBERTS – Oct 21, 2008

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A new $15 million veterinary hospital for four-legged military personnel opened Tuesday at Lackland Air Force Base, offering a long overdue facility that gives advanced medical treatment for combat-wounded dogs.

Dog handler James Stegmeyer works with Kamilka at the new Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008. The new $15 million veterinary hospital, complete with operating rooms and intensive care, officially opened Tuesday, offering an advanced facility to treat military dogs that find bombs and aid patrols on the warfront. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Dogs working for all branches of the military and the Transportation Safety Administration are trained at the base to find explosive devices, drugs and land mines. Some 2,500 dogs are working with military units.

Like soldiers and Marines in combat, military dogs suffer from war wounds and routine health issues that need to be treated to ensure they can continue working.

Dogs injured in Iraq or Afghanistan get emergency medical treatment on the battlefield and are flown to Germany for care. If necessary, they’ll fly on to San Antonio for more advanced treatment — much like wounded human personnel.

Dog handler James Stegmeyer works with Kamilka at the new Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008. The new $15 million veterinary hospital, complete with operating rooms and intensive care, officially opened Tuesday, offering an advanced facility to treat military dogs that find bombs and aid patrols on the warfront. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“We act as the Walter Reed of the veterinary world,” said Army Col. Bob Vogelsang, hospital director, referring to the Washington military medical center that treats troops returning severely wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The dogs can usually return to combat areas if they recover at the Military Working Dog Center, he said.

Before the center opened, veterinarians treated and rehabilitated dogs in a cramped building that opened in 1968, when the military trained dogs for work in Vietnam.

The hospital was already overloaded by Sept. 11, 2001, but since then, demand for military working dogs has jumped dramatically. They’re so short on dog breeds such as German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Belgian Malinoises that Lackland officials have begun breeding puppies at the base.

Lackland is training 750 dogs, which is nearly double the number of dogs there before the Sept. 11 attacks, Vogelsang said.

Military guests take part in the grand opening ceremony for the new Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008. The new $15 million veterinary hospital, complete with operating rooms and intensive care, officially opened Tuesday, offering an advanced facility to treat military dogs that find bombs and aid patrols on the warfront. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

To treat the trainees and injured working dogs, the new hospital has operating rooms, digital radiography, CT scanning equipment, an intensive care unit and rehab rooms with an underwater treadmill and exercise balls, among other features. A behavioral specialist has an office near the lobby.

“This investment made sense … and somehow, we were able to convince others,” said retired Col. Larry Carpenter, who first heard complaints about the poor facilities in 1994 and later helped to launch the project.

Training a military working dog takes about four months. With demand outstripping the number of dogs available, hospital and veterinary workers were trying to keep them healthy and working as long as possible, Vogelsang said.

Working dogs usually enter training at 1 1/2- to 3-years-old, and most can work until they’re about 10, he said.

Then, the military tries to adopt them out and “station them at Fort Living Room,” Vogelsang said.

Guests tour the new Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008. The new $15 million veterinary hospital, complete with operating rooms and intensive care, officially opened Tuesday, offering an advanced facility to treat military dogs that find bombs and aid patrols on the warfront. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


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.  

IRAQ:Dog Duty

Posted in Army Dog teams, dogs, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2008 by wardogmarine


It wasn’t your typical military mission. For starters, the soldiers leading the patrol had four legs each, one of which was frequently lifted.

They were Army Staff Sgt. Iron and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Pluto, two of about 200 dogs deployed in Iraq to sniff for bombs, chase down insurgents, hunt for human remains or just offer comfort to soldiers in need.

For the first time, therapy dogs have been sent to a combat zone, and two are in northern Iraq working with stressed-out troops.

Iron and Pluto are not the warm and fuzzy type, though.

Fearsome-looking creatures who weigh more than 80 pounds each, they go up front on foot patrols to search for weapons and explosives in insurgent-filled areas not previously scoured by U.S. troops.


It is dangerous duty. At least three dogs have died in Iraq. During the Vietnam War, 281 dogs were killed on the battlefield.

If Iron and Pluto were aware of the dangers facing them on a recent mission southeast of Baghdad, in the volatile Arab Jabour area, they weren’t letting on. Iron, a German shepherd, sat quietly next to his partner, Sgt. Joshua T. Rose. Pluto, a svelte Belgian Malinois, pranced excitedly next to his teammate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Blake T. Soller.

For the dogs, the patrol was another chance to enjoy a long walk on a brisk winter’s day.


Their partners, though, are responsible for making sure the dogs are warm enough in the winter, cool enough in summer, properly nourished, well rested and protected from the same insurgents who try to kill human soldiers. Team members get basic veterinary training, part of the course they must pass before being allowed to work with military dogs.

“For the most part, when there’s a firefight, the first thing the humans do is try to safeguard the dog,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goodro Jr., who handles requests for dog teams from his station at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, southeast of Baghdad.


Soller once leapt 60 feet into the cold waters of New York Harbor to save Pluto, who had jumped over the side of a cargo ship they were searching.

Goodro calls the nine dogs assigned to his brigade his “guys.” “The hardest part of the job is sending these guys out there and having a casualty,” said Goodro, who has a black Lab and an English bulldog back home in Florida.

It happened last July in Goodro’s area of operation, when Army Cpl. Kory D. Wiens, 20, and his dog Cooper were killed by a bomb while on patrol. Their remains lie buried, side by side, in Wiens’ hometown of Dallas, Ore.


Pluto’s and Iron’s mission ended in victory. Iron found two bombs buried in an orchard. He then sat proudly for portrait photographs beside each discovery.


As explosives experts prepared to detonate the devices, Staff Sgt. Rose covered Iron’s ears to block the sound. Iron, he explained, is terrified of loud noises.

Pluto lay on the ground, too tired to be concerned. His eyelids drooped as the sun sank behind the palm trees.


With the mission over, Rose with Iron and Soller with Pluto climbed into the back of their mine-resistant MRAP and headed back to base. Pluto and Iron got into a brief brawl, but it was more bark than bite. No blood was shed.

The next day, after about 15 hours’ sleep, they were out on a practice field with other dogs, honing their sniffing skills for future missions.

Tina Susman in Minari village

Photos: From top, Army Staff Sgt. Iron awaits mission orders (Tina Susman); Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Blake T. Soller preps Pluto for the mission (Tina Susman); Soller and Pluto scour a field for hidden explosives (Tina Susman); Soller gives Pluto a minute with his favorite toy after a successful find (Tina Susman); Army Cpl. Kory Wiens and his dog Cooper, who died in Iraq in July (Army Times); Army Sgt. Joshua T. Rose photographs Iron next to a bomb the dog discovered (Tina Susman); Rose and Iron relax at the end of their mission (Tina Susman).

Original story go here- IRAQ: Dog Duty

War Dog Article

Posted in Marine dog teams, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2008 by wardogmarine
Dogs of War Play Key Role in Iraq

March 3, 2008 · About 1,000 of the military personnel who have served on the front lines of the war in Iraq look quite different from the rest. They are dogs.

Mostly Belgian Malinois and German shepherds, some Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers, these war canines are trained to take bullets for their comrades, detect roadside bombs and sniff out other dangers.

Lance Cpl. Justin Granado  and Jerry
Gloria Hillard, NPR
Parting with one’s dog is the hardest part of serving in the canine unit, says Lance Cpl. Justin Granado, pictured here with Jerry.

They typically serve the Department of Defense for 10 to 13 years, often with longer and more frequent deployments than their handlers. Three have been killed this time around in Iraq, and many more have been seriously wounded. Consequently, they sometimes need a little R and R. Camp Pendleton in southern California is where they get it.

“They deploy and they come back, that’s a rough time for them and they’re stressed out just the way we get stressed out,” explains Marine Sgt. Benjamin Maple, a trainer at Camp Pendleton’s canine unit. At his feet, “Corporal Jerry,” a Belgian Malinois, wags his tail.

Maple has been deployed to Iraq three times. He has seen a lot, he says, but when he talks about his other dog, Star, something changes in his eyes.

“I almost walked on an IED but he was ahead of me, he saved my life. He saved the lives of a couple Marines that were with me,” he says. “That dog has seen more combat, he puts me to shame. I actually named my daughter after him, I just had a baby girl and I got his name tattooed on my arm.”

Challenges of Dog Deployment

Dogs like Star are rotated from handler to handler throughout the years. The breaking of these well-established bonds is the toughest part of being in the canine unit, says Lance Cpl. Justin Granado.

“You come back, and they take you off that dog and put you with another dog, and you spend a lot of time and go through what you go through. It’s tough. He sleeps with you at night, and you do everything together. It’s like taking your best friend away,” he says.

Dogs are not new to battle. Four-legged soldiers and Marines have served the U.S. military in many capacities since World War I. The challenge in Iraq, however, is the weather. Blowing sand and scorching 130-degree heat take a toll on the dogs.

“It gets to the point where a lot of the ‘grunts’ help out,” Maple says. “You’re going on a 10-mile walking patrol, they’ll come up — ‘Hey, we’ll carry some water for your dog.’ ”

Sgt. Benjamin Maple and Arco 
Gloria Hillard, NPR
Sgt. Benjamin Maple visits Arco at the kennel. He served in Iraq with Arco for two years and says he hopes to adopt him one day.

Morale Boost

There is more than explosive-detecting practicality to the dog forces. Canines can be morale boosters, Maple says.

“It gives them some kind of remembrance of back home, their dog back home that they haven’t seen. And it makes them a little bit happier,” he says.

The grassy obstacle course of Camp Pendleton’s canine training unit is a far cry from Iraq or even Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where the dogs undergo training.

Camp Pendleton is simply a peaceful intermediary. And soon the dogs — affectionately assigned ranks above those of their handlers — will return to Iraq.

Maple has a plan for 80-pound Arco, whom he served with in Iraq for two years. If and when the dog, currently recovering from an injury at Pendleton, makes it back from his next trip to the front lines, he says, he will bring the dog home.

If Arco comes up for adoption, as the dogs usually do, Maple says, “I’m going to be the first one calling: ‘Hey, I want that dog.’ ”

For original story go here:

Dogs of War Tattoo

Posted in dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2008 by wardogmarine


Posted in dogs, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2008 by wardogmarine

If you had to guess what the biggest challenge to our dog teams overseas is, you might hear answers such as IED’s, performance during gunfire, and other combat related responses. But one of the biggest challenges is not necessarily how they may react to gunfire and bombs but how they adjust to and work in the weather.

Braving combat situations, searching for explosives for hours, and providing security at checkpoints are just a few of many uses dog teams are utilized for. By studying the combat environment dog teams can implement training programs to be very well prepared for just about any situation. While dog teams can be prepared for gunfire, explosives, and searching vehicles one element that is difficult to prepare them for is the weather.

 The average temperatures in Iraq range from higher than 48 degree C (120 Fahrenheit) in July and August to below freezing in January. In this weather service members may slow down but they can still work for hours and days consistently. This weather can challenge a dog’s efficiency dramatically. Dogs have a much more difficult time expelling heat than humans do.

Not only do dogs have a layer of thick hair but they don’t have the ability to sweat either. Dogs cool down through panting and cooling their undersides. Keeping our dogs as fresh as possible requires constant hydration, and a significant supply of water everywhere the dog teams go. Handlers are also trained on how to give their dogs I.V.’s giving them the fluids they need.

Another weather element they battle are the sandstorms. Stinging sand can significantly reduce a dogs vision and ability to detect and work. With new gear and technology for the dogs we are able to limit the effect the elements can have on our dogs.

Handlers are supplied many top of the line products to help them keep their dog healthy and efficient. Ice packs and cool pads specifically designed for the dogs are a must have item for handlers. Specially made ballistic dog goggles called “doggles” are also often used to protect the dogs eyes. Handlers use booties to wrap around the dogs paws to keep their feet from directly stepping on the excruciating hot ground as well as glass and shrapnel. These items are just a few of many in the handlers arsenal that enable them to perform their duties and do what they do best which is saving and protecting lives.

Tech. Sgt. John Mascolo and his military working dog, Ajax, left, await a helicopter pickup with Staff Sgt. Manny Garcia and his dog, Jimmy, outside Forward Operating Base Normandy, Iraq, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. The dogs are wearing “doggles” to prevent sand and debris from getting in their eyes during sandstorms or when near helicopters. The 35th Security Force Squadron Airmen and their dogs had completed a security sweep of a farmhouse looking for weapons and materials used to make improvised explosive devices. (U.S. Army photo/Pfc. William Servinski II)

SSgt Geoffrey Welsh-MWD Carlos/F337

Posted in Army Dog teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2008 by wardogmarine

K9 Carlos
I would like to submit MWD Carlos/F337 for your K-9 pride section.

MWD Carlos is a 5 year old Dutch Shepherd who has been there and done that. Carlos has deployed four times in his short life and has had the honor of leaving a lasting impression on many people during multiple support missions. His second deployment to Baghdad, Iraq is where he stepped up and saved hundreds of lives. His contributions to the War on Terrorism read like a fictional novel.

Carlos contributed critical explosive detection to 100 downtown raids with the 506th RCT/101st ABN. During these missions Carlos was credited with multiple solo finds consisting of rifles, EFP devices, RPG’s, IED’s, and in one raid, over 700 anti-personnel mines. In this one find Carlos saved countless US personnel and civilians. These finds along with his relentless display of bravery during a 45 minute firefight to rescue an American convoy solidify his presence as a “true” working dog. During this rescue Carlos endured continued direct and indirect fire making sweep after sweep to clear a safe route to retrograde. For his actions Carlos was made an honorary member of the 506th RCT and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
Carlos will be greatly missed by his handler.

SSgt Geoffrey Welsh