Archive for k9 pride

A soldier’s best friend

Posted in Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2009 by wardogmarine

Batavia native trains to be military dog handler
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Switzer Joint Hometown News ServiceSaturday, June 20, 2009 6:19 AM EDT

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — It can be a terrifying thing to see a dog streaking toward you across a field, fast and low to the ground, lips peeled back from a mouth filled with huge white teeth.
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Dog handlers wait with their dogs before participating in a series of tests determining the handler’s control on a working environment at the Military Working Dog Hospital at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. (Photo by Michael Tolzmann)

But for the son of a Batavia couple, all he can think about as the 80-pound animal leaps toward his arm is making sure the dog gets a good bite.

Air Force Senior Airman Joseph Teresi, son of Joseph and Mary Beth Teresi of Lewiston Road, is a student military working dog handler with the 341st Training Squadron, the largest canine training center of its kind in the world.
Air Force Senior Airman Joseph Teresi, a Batavia native, is a student military working dog handler. He is learning to become a handler at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. (Photo by Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

The Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center has courses that train both new dogs and new handlers to work together as sentries and bomb and drug sniffers. The human students spend 11 weeks working with veteran dogs learning how to control and understand their future canine partners. The new dogs work with veteran handlers to learn patrol work and to recognize the scents of drugs and explosives and the behaviors that will tell their handlers they’ve found something.

The dogs learn to identify the scents of a variety of explosives and drugs, many of which are odorless to humans. The dogs also learn how to patrol and are taught “controlled aggression” — when it is and is not appropriate to bite a human and to let go of someone they have bitten, on command and with no hesitation.
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A military working dog attacks a handler on command at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. Military working dogs are taught deterrence and how to protect their handler. (Photo by Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

“I work with a dog every day and put in long hours of dog training and grooming,” said Teresi, a 2006 graduate of Notre Dame High School. “I also conduct police patrols with my four-legged partner.”

Working with canines is a completely different military experience.

“It doesn’t matter how badly a day is going or how long I’ve been working, when I look down my leash there’s always a tail wagging,” said Teresi. “A dog doesn’t care about the bad; he’s there by your side. He becomes a four-legged best friend.”
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Military working dogs bark as handlers walk by the kennels at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. (Photo by Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

Human students at the school learn the basics of their future partners including safety procedures, managing health, the gear they will be using, general record keeping for the animals and the principles of behavioral conditioning.

Then they begin to work with the dogs, learning basic obedience commands, how to control the animals, procedures for patrolling and searching an area and how to keep a working dog in top form.
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A military working dog handler instructs his dog to detect explosives around vehicles at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. (Photo by Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

“Military working dogs are a vital resource unmatched by any piece of equipment,” said Teresi, who has been in the Air Force for three years and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. “Sure, some day a machine may be able to smell a bomb, but it will never have a heart or the will to keep going.”


Military Dogs Bite Into Their Mission

Posted in military working dog handlers, Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by wardogmarine

Marine Corps News|by LCpls Brian Marion and Jason Hernandez

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq  — Dogs have served in nearly every major conflict in human history.  The Romans deployed entire company-sized formations of dogs and armies in medieval Britain used dogs to pull armored horsemen off their mounts for infantrymen to kill with ease. During World War I, the Belgian army used dogs to tow machine-gun carriages and canines have been in action with U.S. forces since the birth of the nation.

That tradition continues today in Iraq’s Al Anbar province where military working dogs are hard at work detecting explosives, sniffing out drugs, tracking down potential enemies, and serving as an extra set of eyes and ears on patrols.
“We use these working dogs for a variety of counter-insurgent, counter-[improvised explosive device] and force protection roles,” said Sgt. Elijah S. Prudhomme, a kennel master with Task Force Military Police, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.  “They help us seek out dangerous materials while putting the Marines at as little risk as possible.”
They may be animals, but the dogs display just as much discipline as their Marine handlers.  Able to operate without a leash, the dogs show initiative, communications skills and, when necessary, ruthless aggression.
They’ve been trained on how to “sniff out” hazardous substances and point out the locations of these hazardous materials to their handlers.  It is also not uncommon to watch a dog sweeping an open area in a tight, scanning formation dozens of yards away from its master.
“They’re also highly trained on how to attack and take down an opponent,” said Prudhomme.  “We train them on that regularly to ensure that our Marines have a dog well-trained on how to non-lethally remove a threat.”
To show off their dogs’ prowess, the TFMP dog handlers put on a military working dog demonstration for the Marines of the Multi National Force – West command element aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 26, 2009. The handlers and their canine companions showed off their search and discovery techniques around buildings and vehicles, but the most intense part of the demonstration had a bit more bite.
To cap off the half hour-long demonstration, Prudhomme donned a protective set and attempted to ‘flee’ from another handler and his dog. In response, Diva, a German Sheppard combat tracker dog, was let off the leash and sent in pursuit. Latching on to Prudhomme, Diva was able to wrestle the much larger and heavier man to the ground within seconds. A simple voice command from her handler stopped the attack, and Diva returned to her master’s side.
“It was a lot of fun being the victim in the bite suit,” said Navy Lt. Chris Martin, the battalion chaplain for TFMP who has volunteered to be ‘attacked’ during an earlier training evolution. “It’s neat to see what the dogs can do and feel the type of force they hit you with. The impact feels like someone suddenly grabbing your arm and pulling you down to the ground.”
Getting the dogs into prime condition is no simple feat. The handlers spend almost every waking moment of the day with their dogs to establish the bonds and reinforce the skills necessary to make the animals an essential part of the ongoing mission in Iraq.
“Most people think we sit around and play with the dogs the entire time, but we don’t,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Danielle Kubit, master-at-arms for TFMP’s military working dog section. “It isn’t easy training. It takes a lot of hard work to train the dogs and you have to start with baby steps.”
According to Kubit, each day involves hours of training and reinforcement of skills to keep the dogs at their peak. Military working dog detachments are scattered throughout the Al Anbar province to support MNF-W operations, and at any given time, can be found conducting searches, out on patrols with Iraqi and Marine forces, or simply standing by for the call to leap into action.
Serving in Iraq presents a unique set of challenges for the dog handlers most people wouldn’t imagine, and that involves taking care of the dogs in the brutal Iraq heat. Unlike other ‘service members’ who can verbalize when they are becoming hot or tired, the handlers must look for non-verbal clues from their partners whose fur and body types make them more susceptible to the heat.
“We have to keep themydrated and in the shade because the heat makes them tired very fast,” Kubit said.
Kubit went on to say that the gravel and rocks dominating the Iraqi landscape can tear up a dog’s paws and when the ground gets too hot, it can cause their paws to crack and burn. To combat this, the dog handlers coat their canine partner’s paws with a special spray.
Despite the difficulties, Kubit, Prudhomme and the other dog handlers agree theirs is an essential job and well worth the extra effort.
“I love my job,” Kubit added.  “We put in several hours of hard work to train the dogs and get them to trust us enough to be our partners – and we do get to play with them.”

© Copyright 2009 Marine Corps News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dogs, handlers compete

Posted in military working dog handlers, Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , on June 4, 2009 by wardogmarine
By DawnDee Bostwick
Waynesville Daily Guide
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
-Forty-two teams made of humans and canines came from across the United States to determine who would be this year’s “Top Dog.”
The third annual TRADOC Working Dog Warrior Police Challenge, held for the first time on Fort Leonard Wood, tested handlers and canines abilities in a variety of situations.

The competition is one tool that can be used to assess training success and where improvements need to be made.

For some, the military environment was one that was entirely new.
Civilian Cpl. Brian Moore, who is with the Waynesville Police Department, brought Oxx, the department’s newest employee, to test his skills and learn some new things.

“I’m pleased with him,” Moore said of Oxx’s performance through the week-long competition. “I’ve learned a lot from the other handlers.”
Oxx performed well in the exercises, although one obstacle course proved to be a bit more challenging than anticipated.
“We’ve never run an obstacle course,” Moore said. “That was all new to us.”

And though the course wasn’t done to perfection, Moore will be able to take the experience and develop Oxx’s skills even moore.
SFC Sean Shiplett organized this year’s event— an undertaking he’s worked on since January.

“This gives the teams scenarios they may not see on a daily basis,” Shiplett said, explaining what goes on during the competition. “Every environment that the team goes into is going to be a new environment.”
Moore wasn’t the only civilian participating in the mostly military event. Mark Lenger, a K-9 handler with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, was there as well.
“I came down to enjoy the benefits of the training they’re putting on down here,” Lenger said.

“The military is known for having excellent dogs and excellent trainers,” he  continued. “It was worth it to me to come down.”
SFC Jimmy Blankenship said dogs have a long history in law enforcement and military operations. Their sense of smell and ability to learn make the ideal partners in fighting crime.

“They are very vital. They provide force protection,” Blankenship said. “We’ve been utilizing them for approximately 50 to 60 years.”

A salute to the military working dog

Posted in military working dog handlers, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by wardogmarine

By:ET3 Alexander Lockman

GROTON, Conn. – There are members of the Naval Submarine Base New London Security Team who deploy with little bark but a great deal of bite. SUBASE is one of a number of bases in the Mid-Atlantic Region with a corps of canine security specialists – Military working dogs (MWD).

MWDs have been a staple in militaries throughout history and continue to provide unique services to the armed forces of today. Their keen sense of smell and hearing as well as the ability to navigate through the wild has made them an asset for whoever they serve.

Canines were first utilized by the ancient people of Persian and Assyria as actual combatants. Later, the Romans gathered dogs in columns equipped with light armor and spiked collars while the English were known to attach long spikes over their heads and have them charge forward to attack the enemy’s cavalry. French emperor Napoleon is thought to be the first leader to make use of the dog’s superior senses by chaining them to the walls of Alexandria to warn of an impending attack. In the early twentieth century, Germany was the most dominant user of dogs; training them to perform scouting duties with infantry patrols. Additionally dogs served watch dogs and were used to carry messages from front line fighters to the rear.

In the early 1940’s many breeders in the United States had formed groups in support of using dogs in the military. One of the most famous groups was “Dogs for Defense.” They were created immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor and strived to develop a large trained canine force to be used by the Army. On November 8, 1942 the 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3rd Division obtained dogs from Front Royal, Va. These would be the frontrunners of the United States canine force and were deployed during D-day. At first the dogs were gun-shy but soon proved to be more alert and responsive than their human handlers during sentry duty on the battle lines.

On the back of the canine’s success during the beginning of WWII, the first War Dog training center was established at Front Royal, Va., in August of 1942. The completion of the center allowed the training of 400 men and 900 dogs by June 1943; by July of that year over 11,000 dogs had been procured by the Army. Dogs and their handlers were sent to fight in Korea in 1951 and had logged over 400 patrols by 1953. The canines acted as forward scouts for the rest of the patrol, providing an advanced warning of approaching enemies or ambushes along their trail. The dogs now performed better around fire due to training involving gunfire, a practice that began after WWII to keep the dogs focused during intense combat. During the Vietnam Conflict over 4.500 dogs working dogs were sent to aid the war effort; primarily providing early detection for military installations, alerting soldiers of enemy infiltrators.

The North Vietnamese would not penetrate a sentry dog post undetected until December of 1966. Even then the infiltrators were spotted by the second sentry dog team. A fight ensued, leading to one handler and three dogs being killed, the first sentry dog casualties. During the struggle a dog named Nemo became a symbol of canine heroism in America when he saved the life of his injured handler after he himself was shot. Nemo would later lose his eye due to his injury.

Today dogs are mainly used for drug and bomb detection and are serving in all branches of the armed forces. The German Shepherd remains the most popular military working dog due to its intimidating size and detection abilities. Beagles and Terriers are also useful for their small size aboard ships and other small spaces. In 1999 the canine corps searched over 220 million packages and people with 11,000 drug and currency detections.

Dogs have played an important and ever evolving role in the militaries of the world. As technology advances and the battlefield changes, they prove to be adaptable and at SUBASE, MWD handlers will tell you that the dogs are irreplaceable. Deadline nears for Military Working Dog Award nominations Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) / DOGNY Military Working Dog Award shines the spotlight on a military working dog and handler team to acknowledge their dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces and the citizens of our nation. An element of the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE), the award is a prestigious way to pay tribute to Military Working Dogs. ACE honorees are recognized nationally and five dogs are chosen who have performed an exemplary act or series of acts in the following five categories: law enforcement, search and rescue, therapy, service, and exemplary companion dog. Nominations will be accepted until June 30, 2009; for more information about the ACE awards or to download a nomination form visit ©The Dolphin 2009

Military War Dog Video

Posted in Tribute Videos, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by wardogmarine


Raritan students remember Vietnam War dogs, handlers

Posted in air force teams, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Monday May 18, 2009, 8:58 PM

When students in Evelyn Van Nuys’ seventh grade history class were studying the Vietnam War, they learned that thousands of dogs served in the military, attacking enemy soldiers and sniffing out explosives. They also learned that many of these “war dogs” were abandoned and forgotten after the war.

The J.P. Case Middle School students decided the heroic canines and their handlers should be remembered, so they joined with their teacher to create a memorial at the Raritan Township school.

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Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Students at the J.P. Case Middle School in Raritan
Township decided a memorial to the dogs lost in the Vietnam War.

The memorial to war dogs and their handlers was dedicated at a ceremony this afternoon.

The black granite slab was donated by Rich Kulinski, and the students raised $4,000 to have it etched. It bears a Terry Waldron sketch of a war dog named “Fluffy” and his handler, and a poem called “The Soldier Dog,” written by Vietnam veteran Joe Ferrara. It also lists the nine New Jersey military dog handlers who were killed in action in Vietnam.

Today’s event drew local veterans’ organizations, politicians and members of the public to honor “courage at both ends of the leash.” Veterans’ organizations included Hunterdon County Bulldogs Chapter 957, Military Order of Purple Hearts Chapter 27, Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 452 and American Legion Post 159.

The attendees were joined by about 500 students.

During the ceremony, students and veterans placed flowers in front of the memorial for the dog handlers who died in Vietnam. The program also featured a student choir singing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” Lebanon Mayor Mark Paradis and Dan Schultz performing Echo Taps, and Rose Holden singing “America the Beautiful.”

According to Van Nuys, dogs were considered military equipment and left in Vietnam at the end of the war. The Gifted and Talented and seventh grade students attended a special assembly featuring veterans in the community and John C. Burnam, military dog handler and founder of the National War Dog Memorial in Washington D.C.

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Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Senior airman Rodreques Boyd, from McGuire Airforce Base, with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of in September.

In addition to inspiring her students to honor war dogs, Van Nuys also inspired Flemington resident J.T. Gabriel. Gabriel formed the nonprofit organization K9 Soldiers to collect and donate necessary goods to the K9 teams at Fort Drum, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, McGuire Air Force Base and Bolling Air Force Base.

To make a donation to K9 Soldiers call at (908) 284-0284 or visit

Gabriel also arranged to have representatives from these bases attend the dedication, which was performed with full military honors.

Senior airman Rodreques Boyd came to the event from McGuire Airforce Base with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of duty in September. Boyd, originally from Atlanta, said he thought the memorial was “awesome.”

Peter Abramchak, who goes by “Pittstown Pete,” said he is glad the school did this. Abramchak served in Vietnam and is a member of the Marine Corps League. He said some military dogs are trained to attack, while others are used to sniff out bombs.

“The dogs deserve to be remembered,” he said.

Engineers and canines

Posted in Army Dog teams with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2009 by wardogmarine

By DawnDee Bostwick
Waynesville Daily Guide

Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. – The military has used animals in combat for years. From geese, to canines to dolphins, animals of all sizes and habitats have found a new purpose in helping defend the country.

The Engineer Canine Company at Fort Leonard Wood is no exception to this rule. Though they’re the first engineer company to have canines, the program isn’t something that’s new to the Armed Forces.
Historically, man’s best friend began military service in World War II. Since then, canines have served alongside men and women in uniform in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By submitted

And while this company’s soldiers’ furry buddies might look like your run-of-the-mill family pet, they’re far from it.
The working dogs, as they’re often referred to, undergo extensive training to detect explosive materials.

Two types of working dogs can be found on the post, including mine detection dogs and special search dogs.
The importance of the animals is not lost on their handlers. Without their superior sense of smell and aptitude for learning, many items that could harm soldiers might go undiscovered.
“We’re taking stuff off the battlefield that can be used against us,” John Chris, one of the company’s soldiers, said.

The canines are specifically selected to serve, and while not all that are selected make it through the program, many do. Assigned a military record, the animals are even eligible for certain medals for the work they do. The length of their career depends on the animal, Thomas Jefferies, another soldier, said.
But when they’re done with their job here, that doesn’t mean they’re not able to work in another field.
These working dogs can find homes at the FBI, local police agencies and the like.

Training is no easy task either, although it can be fun for both parties.
“Dogs are like humans, they learn at different paces,” Jefferies said, explaining that it might take one dog a bit longer than another to learn a concept. But the hard work pays off, as seen in a demonstration the company had for local media on Thursday.
Once this canine found its target, he was rewarded— and happily so.
A competition on May 14 will put these soldiers against some of the best in the nation, in both military and civilian life. The working dog competition will test the soldiers’ and their furry friends skills and ability to overcome obstacles.
“We’re going to be competing with teams across the country,” said Chris, who will compete with a special search dog.

This is also the first time the competition has been open to mine dogs, something that is both exciting and intimidating at the same time.
Mark Gray might have explained it best, saying, “It’s kind of nerve wrecking, but it’s fun all at the same time. I get to play with my puppy.”
Puppy might not be the word most would go to when describing a dog with the capabilities these ones have, but it also sums up the bond that grows between the soldier and their animal.
While these dogs aren’t family pets, they are family. Having a partner that won’t talk back, argue or get upset with you also has its advantages, Michael Tucker said.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to work with something like that,” Tucker said, noting it does take effort on the part of the human to learn a dog’s ‘language’. “It’s a whole new experience. It’s a new challenge, everyday.”
And for Chris, this career is an opportunity to do something he’s always loved to do.
“I’ve turned a game, when I was a kid of playing with the dog, into something I do for a living,” he said.