Archive for military dog

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


War dog joins Fox Lake American Legion

Posted in Military stories, Military Working Dogs, retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by wardogmarine


By Bob Susnjara-Daily Herald Staff

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.”

“Rit” the Sniffer Dog helps the Royal Air Force-Video

Posted in Foreign Dog Teams, Military Working Dogs, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by wardogmarine

Great video here about the British Royal Air Force in Basra, Iraq and one of their sniffer dogs “Rit” from the working dog support unit. The video is from a series titled “Rocks in a Hard Place” and this is episode 12. The unit in the video is Support Weapons Flight and they are showcased as they search for some weapons/explosives caches. 

“Rit the sniffer dog helps Support Weapons Flight investigate a possible arms cache. When the lads spot one of the locals filming them on his mobile, they search it and get a suprise. To see more go to” -from the video’s description

Fire Paw

Posted in Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2008 by wardogmarine

Thought this was a cool pic, good way to show people from the air K9 is on deck!

Bite Work

Posted in dogs, Military Working Dogs, working dogs with tags , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by wardogmarine

Imagine if your job was to let dogs bite you all day. As handlers we are trained to not only handle our working dogs but to also help train eachother’s. That includes decoying for each other to help our dog’s build their drive which in turn builds their confidence which makes them better working dogs. To some,  decoying looks easy, just stand there and let the dog bite you. Well a good decoy can take a dog’s confidence through the roof and turn a dog into a fantastic working dog. A bad decoy can create bad habits in a dog, hinder it’s confidence, injure a dog and even shut it down completely keeping it from developing it’s drive and confidence. Decoying is one of the most crucial and important aspects of developing the patrol certified working dog.

A decoy can use different kinds of gear to maximize a dog’s drive. There is the bite sleeve, the bite suit top which only covers the top half of the body, the bite suit bottom which covers your legs, hidden sleeves which decoys put under there clothing and much more. This gear protects the decoy from actually getting bit but from time to time some dogs are so powerful that their jaws will sometimes get through, or sometimes the gear has a small tear and a dog will get through.

Axel keeps a sharp eye on a “suspect” during aggression training Sept. 19 at a deployed location in Southwest Asia. Axel is a 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron military working dog. The military working dogs are trained several times a week to keep their skills sharp. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder)

It can look dangerous but once you learn how to decoy it can be a lot of fun. In fact, there are people out there who are professional decoys where all they do is decoy for dogs. A good decoy is high in demand because they are as pivotal to developing the dog as the handler is. A bad decoy can not not only injure a dog but they can get injured as well.

When these dogs are released to attack the bite isn’t the biggest concern, it’s how hard the dog will hit the decoy, or the dog’s drive for the bite. Some dogs hit so hard that I have heard of shoulders being dislocated or some other injury take place. It can feel like you just got hit by a small train. It may sound dangerous but once you learn how to properly “catch” a dog it can be a lot of fun. Watching a dog come after you like a speedy bullet can be a rush for the decoy, but the biggest rush is for the dog about to get what he loves doing, the bite.

The goals are to maximize the dogs drive for the bite, teach it how to bite properly, and also bite when a real life situation presents itself. So if a handler needs to send his dog on a criminal, insurgent, or someone being unruly and the dog performs well, they can thank themselves as well as the decoys.

This video is a fantastic compilation of decoy work. The Israelis are known for having some of the most well trained working dogs in the world. In fact, they sent some of their expert trainers to train our military on new techniques they are using with dogs in combat because their dogs have been so effective. Here they show some of their abilities in decoying.

The video is long(7:59) but it has some great footage in terms of decoying. My personal favorite clips are at
:36, 4:12, 4:25, 5:19(leg bite), 7:05(dog flips), 7:34(slow motion leaping)