Archive for dog handlers

Military working dog team inspects potential 22,000-gallon bomb

Posted in air force teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Public Affairs

4/10/2009 – CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AFNS) — Military working dog handlers and their canine partners are used throughout Southwest Asia to detect explosives that are meant to injure servicemembers and innocent civilians. 

For one dog handler, Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, and his dog, Lucca, this task took an interesting turn.

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, 42nd Military Police Brigade military working dog handler, and his dog, Lucca, successfully investigated a 22,000-gallon fuel truck that had gone off the road in Iraq to ensure it contained no explosives. Sergeant Null is deployed from the 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Courtesy photo)

“There was a fuel truck that had gone off road and got stuck in the sand,” said the sergeant, who is part of the 42nd Military Police Brigade. “It had been abandoned overnight, and I was tasked to go out with the Army to sweep the area leading up to the vehicle and basically clear the area for improvised explosive devices that had been attached to the vehicle.”

This is an important, though dangerous step, he said.

“Anytime you’re going to have people go into an unknown area, you want to clear it as best as you possibly can,” Sergeant Null said. “If you can have an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team clear it or a bomb-sniffing dog go out there and clear the area, then you’re taking one more threat away from the Soldier who has to go out there and do a job.”

But IEDs weren’t the only threat posed by the abandoned truck. It was carrying 22,000 gallons of gas, potentially turning the truck into a massive fuel bomb.

“That makes a pretty big bomb if there’s some C4 strapped to it,” he said.

For 45 agonizing minutes, Sergeant Null and Lucca searched the area, the handler waiting for the working dog to give him some sign that all wasn’t well with the tanker truck.

“It makes you a little nervous clearing a real area, because you know it’s the real deal,” he said. “But that’s your job. This is what I signed up to do. Somebody’s got to do it, right? If my dog had sat, I would have praised her and gotten back to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle as quick as possible to report what had happened.”

At this point, it was Lucca’s show. The German Shepherd would either sit, indicating the presence of a bomb, or she wouldn’t.

“You don’t look at the dog as a dog,” Sergeant Null said. “You train together all the time. We’ve been together since June and I couldn’t count the number of hours we’ve spent together. It’s like having a best friend. You think on that same wavelength. My dog goes and does her job, and you know what to look for while she does her job. If you can’t trust the dog, you shouldn’t be out there anyway.”

But Lucca didn’t sit. The truck was clear.

“Everything was good to go,” Sergeant Null said.

Eight hours later, the truck was finally pulled free of the sand, and the convoy made its way back to base. Sergeant Null said that although his primary mission is inside the wire, he’s more than willing to go out again if called upon.

“It’s my job,” he said. “It’s the best job in the Air Force. You get to play with a dog and get paid pretty well for it. You can’t beat that.”

Col. Alan Metzler, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, said Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airmen like Sergeant Null are providing critical services in the joint environment and excelling at it.

“Our combat Airmen are doing an outstanding job in support of the mission at Camp Bucca, and Sergeant Null proves it,” Colonel Metzler said. “Often, they have to adapt to situations and perform unique missions we don’t normally ask them to do in the Air Force. Airmen like him demonstrate the Air Force’s commitment to our mission in Iraq

Read this story here: K9 team inspects truck


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”

K9 Heroes of 9/11 Tribute Videos

Posted in Miscellaneous, Tribute Videos, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by wardogmarine

Today is the 9/11 anniversary. It is a day we honor those we lost and those that fought so bravely to save lives. It was one of those days we all remember where we were when we first heard about what was happening. I was in Marine Corps boot camp. I had just arrived to boot camp one month earlier. Little did I know what was about to happen and where that path was going to lead me. Several years later, one tour of duty with my dog completed, several friends KIA, and a whole new outlook and appreciation of life later I am proud to have served my country and honor those who lost their lives that day. 

9/11 changed our world. It also skyrocketed the demand for working dog teams. Never before has there been such a high demand for search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, etc. Even to this day dog teams continue to be on the frontlines all around the world and here at home protecting our freedom. These videos are dedicated to our canine heroes of 9/11. Thank you to all those who put these together. 

Let slip dogs of war … all 350 of them

Posted in Foreign Dog Teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2008 by wardogmarine
By Craig Brown from
THEY are the true dogs of war. The unsung heroes of a conflict, tirelessly working, obeying every order without a thought for their own safety, rescuing and guarding their comrades, unconcerned about medals or reward – bar, maybe, a biscuit and a pat on the head.
The specialist canine teams are trained to sniff out hidden explosives, booby traps or Taleban militants hiding in the undergrowth. 

“They’re out there every day, on the frontlines,” said Major Chris Ham of the Royal Army 

Veterinary Corps, who commands a unit of 20 handlers and dogs in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, where the Taleban remains strong.

“If the infantry are out on the ground, then the dogs and handlers are out there in front of them, making sure it’s okay to go ahead. They’re basically saving lives.”

The danger that these teams face was brought home starkly in July when Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, and his dog were killed when their unit came under fire in Afghanistan.

Dogs have played a part in British military operations at least since the Second World War, but since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, where crude explosive devices have been put to ever deadlier effect, their use has more than tripled.

Six years ago there were barely 100 dog handlers in the military, now there are around 350, according to Major Ham, and demand is growing all the time.

“This is asymmetric warfare, with the enemy hitting us with improvised explosive devices,” he said. “There’s nothing out there that can find those things as quickly and efficiently as a dog can. Technology isn’t as good in this environment.”

In the heat of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Labradors, springer spaniels and German shepherds enjoy a life of luxury with their own large, air-conditioned kennels.

And where they have to work on hostile terrain, with sharp stones, glass and shrapnel, they are provided with special protective boots for their paws.

But while they may have to work every day for up to two years on the trot, the handlers say they love it.

“With dogs, if they don’t like it, they won’t do it,” said Major Ham. “You can’t force a dog to work. Some dogs get to Afghanistan, find they can’t handle the heat and have to be sent home.”

Such has been their effectiveness that there are now concerns that they have become a target for militants. 

The handlers, who stick to one dog to maximise teamwork, cannot say how many lives they may have saved, but they are quick to list successes. A few weeks ago a dog found a linked chain of bombs that could have destroyed several vehicles at once.

But as one of the handlers points out, one of the great things is that the dogs don’t expect much in return. For most, the only reward they want at the end of the day is a game of ball.

“It’s amazing,” said Sergeant Andy Dodds. “They’re out there saving lives and all they’re really after is a ball.” 


SINCE the Second World War, dogs have been major recipients of the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

They have included:

• Judy, an English pointer, who was known for indicating the approach of hostile Japanese aircraft long before any human could hear them.

• Buster, a springer spaniel, unearthed a huge hidden cache of arms from an enemy camp in Iraq in 2003.

• Sam, a German shepherd, serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2003, disarmed a gunman and held back a hostile crowd while guarding a refugee compound

• Sadie, an explosives search Labrador, who last year found a bomb planted under sandbags near the United Nations headquarters in Afghanistan

Dog Kennel sniffs out trouble

Posted in Navy dog teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2008 by wardogmarine

By MCSN Kenneth AbbatePeriscope Staff(, Kings Bay, Georgia

Dogs are thought of by many as man’s best friend. Nowhere is that statement truer than at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Dog Kennel, where the dogs there can be depended on in life or death situations.

The kennel’s mission is to provide support both to security and the commanding officer for antiterrorism and to prevent drug trafficking at NSB Kings Bay. By completing their mission, the kennel supports the overall mission of the base by ensuring the safety of everyone on the base. The kennel consists of four dog handlers and their K-9s, with one dog and handler deploying on an IA.

MA1(SW) Michael Brandon gives his dog Aron a bath outside the kennel. Brandon says that this task is usually done on Fridays during the kennel’s field day which consists of washing each dog kennel and cleaning the dogs. Photos by MCSN Kenneth Abbate 

The typical workday for the kennel master-at-arms is to arrive to the kennel early in the morning and feed the dogs one of their two meals for the day. After feeding the dogs, handlers take their partner to perform daily training exercises unless they are scheduled to perform vehicle or building inspections followed by random patrols of the base.

“I think that our job here at NSB Kings Bay is very important because this is a very large base and with the dogs we can assist in providing the best all around security of the commands and their staffs,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Michael Brandon. “In my opinion, it is very critical to have these dogs here because of what they can do that we can’t. Their noses are a hundred times better than humans and they can do the job twice as fast.”

Each handler and their dog are assigned from the moment they arrive to the base and each creates a bond with one another to help each other grow as individuals and as a team. Without their hard work and continuous training to improve as a team, the kennel would not be as successful as they are now at doing their job.

“The idea is to leave one handler with one dog during their tour at Kings Bay,” explained Brandon. “With IA’s that come up for Iraq or Afghanistan, sometimes we have to switch handlers with others dogs to help the mission.”

 The bond between MA2 Wilkonson Kinyon and his Military Working Dog Yossi still stands strong after three years together. 

“If not for the IA’s, the goal is to keep handlers with they dogs for the entire tour so they can continue to grow and bond with one another in order to achieve our goals. It would be very difficult to have to keep training a new dog every few months because the dogs will tend to lose that bond with their original handler.”

This bond between handlers and their dogs does not go unnoticed. NSB Kings Bay Executive Officer Cmdr. James Haigh feels that keeping the dogs with their original handlers for the entire tour, helps them both get better at their jobs and is instrumental to helping them accomplish their mission.

“Each of the dogs have their own personality just like the handlers have theirs, which sometimes do not mix well together, but the kennel master is responsible for assigning the dogs with their appropriate handlers and as it turns out they have done a great job,” said Haigh.

 MA2 Terrell James takes his dog Ano through the kennel’s obstacle course in order to keep his dog’s skills sharp.

The dogs are remembered as war heroes and proud members of the military after they retire from service either due to age or medical issues. Yossi, who worked with Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Wilkonson Kinyon for three years at Kings Bay, is retiring from service after eight years. This specific retirement is special for the kennel because the command has made it official that his handler, Kinyon, will take the responsibility of looking after of Yossi.

“Just like all good Sailors, dogs want to retire, whether it be because of physical reasons or age,” Haigh said. “Yossi has been a great dog, but has had some hip problems that have hindered him. So if we could have found someone to take him on board it would be great. Fortunately, it was his handler Kinyon, which makes it even better because the dog gets to continue his life where we know he will be taken care of very well. Anytime you can get that marriage between handler and dog, it is a good thing,” Haigh concluded.

 Military Working Dog Ano enjoys playing with the big ball during his free time at the kennel’s obstacle course. The handlers feel that it is important to have fun with the dogs from time to time by teaching them the difference between play and work time.

This article is from the Kings Bay Periscope in Kings Bay, Georgia

Memorial Day K9 Tribute

Posted in Dog poems, dogs, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2008 by wardogmarine

Dogs do not have the option of enlisting in the military. Yet, after they are chosen and trained, they stand next to their handler willing to give his life for him. When a war dog locates a bomb, or a large cache of weapons and explosives, or even deters an attack we do not hear about it. It isn’t covered on the news, you won’t see it in the newspapers, and chances are we will never know about it. However we, the handlers, know. The Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Seamen who just had their lives saved know. The war dogs also know, and usually receive a special meal at the end of the day.

This blog is dedicated to these dog teams year round, but today I want to say an extra prayer and remember not just those dog teams that have given their lives but all dog teams worldwide who continue to be on the front lines. God bless them all.

A Working Dog Poem

And he said, Behold man, created in my image. Therefore adore him
You shall protect him in the wilderness, shepherd his flocks,
watch over his children, accompany him wherever he may go;
even unto civilization.

You shall be his companion, his ally, his slave. To do these things,
God said, I endow you with these instincts uncommon
to other beasts: faithfulness, devotion, and understanding
surpassing those of man himself.

Lest it impair your courage, you shall never foresee your death.
Lest it impair your loyalty, you shall be blind to faults of man. Lest it
impair your understanding, you are denied the power of words.

Let no fault of language cleave an accord beyond that of man with
any other beast; or even man with man. Speak to your master only
with your mind and through your honest eyes.

Walk by his side: sleep in his doorway: forage for him, ward
off his enemies, carry his burdens, share his afflictions;
love him and comfort him.

And in return for this, man will fulfill your needs and wants-
which shall be only food, shelter and affection.

So be silent, and be a friend to man. Guide him through the perils
along the way to the land that I have promised him.

This shall be your destiny and your immortality.

So spoke the Lord. And the dog heard and was content.


Handler-Dog Bond

Posted in dogs, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2008 by wardogmarine

B – Believe in the dog
O -Observe the dog

N – Nurture (educate) the dog
D – Depend on one another

The bond that exists between a handler and his dog is so vital that it could mean life or death. Show me a great working dog team and I will show you a bond as strong as could be between a handler and dog. Handlers will spend hours training their dog, but they will spend even more time building rapport and developing trust. The trust that builds is something that cannot develop overnight, it takes time. That is why being a good handler is a big responsibility, some handlers may not be disciplined enough to stay extra hours just to build their relationship with the dog. They train, put their dogs in the kennels, and then head home at the end of the day.

Good handlers will take whatever time is necessary to learn as much as they can about their dog. In time, this relationship becomes so strong that the handler will be able to recognize the mood their dog is in, changes in behavior, and other unforeseen messages and signals the dog is sending that is not seen by anyone else. This is vital to their relationship because the handler will be able to know if there may be something wrong medically, if the dog has detected someone or something, and how the dog may react in any given circumstance. A handler being able to recognize these signals allows the dog to be healthier and want to work harder for their handler which makes them better and overall more efficient.

Overseas the bond becomes stronger than ever because the handler is with the dog everyday all day and night. Back in the states the handlers usually house their dogs at a kennel facility on base. Overseas they are responsible for every aspect of the dog’s life.  Feeding, bathing, health checks, grooming, training, exercise, and many more responsibilities are what the dogs depend on from their handlers. Providing everything they can for their dog is why the dog gives everything they can to keep their handlers lives safe. The dog will do whatever it takes, including giving their own life, to keep those that house and provide for him safe.

Once this bond is established there is a strong sense of comfort and confidence in both the handler and dog making them an efficient and highly dependable dog team.  

On a personal note:
Within one week of my war dog Rex and I being attached to an infantry unit in Iraq, we were out on patrols and on the frontlines. What I find amazing is that although I had never met any of those Marines before, never knew their backgrounds outside the Corps, didn’t know their religions, if they had families, or any of their interests, I knew that I could count on them with their lives and they could count on me as well. It is a brotherhood that goes deep and has been rooted throughout history. An unspoken bond that is unbreakable, and rarely found in society. It’s not just on the field of combat where this brotherhood exists, but also back home, Marines helping eachother in time of need.

Rex was just the same. He was able to recognize that even though he never met the Marines before he was out there protecting them everyday. He, as well as most dogs, had a sixth sense where he knew who was friendly and who wasn’t. I can’t count how many times he would stand in front of or next to Marines as Iraqis came by. The Marines would come to me saying how much safer they felt just by having him around. Being able to witness this is an amazing experience and one every handler treasures.