Archive for mwd

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 http://www.akchumanefund.org. ©The Dolphin 2009

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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.
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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.

Ceremony recognizes military working dog’s contributions, achievements

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by wardogmarine

By: Spc. Howard Alperin, MND-B PAO.

BAGHDAD – Military working dog teams from throughout Victory Base Complex came out April 13 for a ceremony at the division chapel to honor one of their own. Kevin, a military working dog, passed away due to complications from cancer. His death was unexpected and left the other half of his team, Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, in limbo and in mourning.
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A memorial tribute honors a fallen comrade April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. chaplain. “It is appropriate to honor their service.”

While in theater, military working dogs are not replaced, so Meier will be reassigned to other duties for the remainder of his deployment. As Meier now turns his attention to new job responsibilities, most of his focus still remains on the loyal partner and friend he lost.

“Kevin was the highlight of my day,” said Meier, a military dog handler, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.
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Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master for Camp Liberty, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div., addresses Soldiers at a ceremony to celebrate the life of one of their own, April 13, at Camp Liberty.  “We consider the military working dogs to be Soldiers too,” said Jasper, from Everett, Wash.  Jasper read the poem, ‘I wait by the gate,’ in honor of Kevin.

For more than four years, Meier and Kevin built an excellent working relationship together. “Kevin was a great patrol explosive detector dog,” said Meier. “I could flip his on and off switch easily because of all the training we did together.”

During their course of working together, the relationship developed further and formed a powerful, personal bond between them. “I was planning on adopting Kevin after this deployment,” said Meier. “This was his last time deploying because of his age.”
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Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, a military dog handler, sits somberly during a ceremony highlighting the life of his deceased partner, Kevin, April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Kevin was my buddy.  He was affectionate, very protective and an excellent worker,” said Meier, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Though he never got to adopt him, Meier and Kevin still had many unforgettable moments together. “I pampered him a lot because a happy dog works better.” Meier recalled the first time he gave Kevin a pillow to rest his head when they were together in a hotel preparing for a Secret Service mission. “Kevin had many human characteristics,” Meier added.

Kevin’s traits will always stick out in the minds of those who knew him. “He was very protective of Sgt. Meier,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master at Camp Liberty, DSTB, 1st Cav. Div. “Besides being a great detection and patrol dog, he was good for law enforcement purposes.”

As one of the first dogs to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kevin’s achievements were acknowledged during the ceremony. There were poems read in his honor, Taps was played by a 1st Cav. Div. trumpeter and military working dog teams left snacks in Kevin’s bowl as a tribute to his service. “It is appropriate to honor their service,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. command chaplain and co-coordinator of the ceremony. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Staff Sgt. Jasper, “We consider dogs to be Soldiers too, they are constantly working.” The ceremony gives credit to all the dogs and all the work they do here and in the United States, he added.
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Soldiers and their military working dog partners take time to pray in honor of Kevin, a military dog who succumbed to cancer.  “It was a good memorial, they don’t happen often for the dogs,” said Sgt. Matt McCummins, a military dog handler, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div.

Military working dog teams are called upon often to perform their duties, so there is rarely a chance for teams from the different camps to see each other. Kevin afforded each team the opportunity to see in each other more of the common ground they share.

As Kevin’s life, the attachment Meier had with him and the work they accomplished together were celebrated, new bonds formed among the Soldiers. They realized more the value of their military working dog teams and appreciated the chance for one of their own to be recognized.
This article found here: MWD Kevin Article

Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight

Posted in air force teams, police dog teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2009 by wardogmarine

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

1/15/2009 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Dental Airmen teamed up with Army veterinarians to give an Air Force working dog a root canal and get her back into the fight Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. 

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Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Military working dog Kitti awaits her root canal at the feet of her handler, Senior Airman Adam Belward Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Kitti’s operation required the collaboration of both an Air Force dentist and an Army veterinarian. Airman Belward is assigned to the 822nd Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson) 

Airmen of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group and Soldiers from the 218th Medical Detachment to work on 5-year-old Belgian melinois Kitti who broke her tooth while trying to chew her way out of her kennel during the flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. 

“She doesn’t like to be left alone,” said Senior Airman Adam Belward, Kitti’s handler from the 822nd Security Forces Squadron from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. 

“She was very stressed out in her kennel and tried to chew her way out,” said the native of Norwalk, Conn. 

Army veterinarians in charge of providing medical care for military working dogs didn’t have all the necessary equipment to treat Kitti. The solution was a collaborative effort with the 386th EMDG’s dental team, who had an X-ray machine and an experienced dentist. The veterinarians had the anesthesia and experience with dogs. 

“(The veterinarian) has talents I don’t have, and I have talents she doesn’t have, so we both need each other,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Henderson, a 386th EMDG dentist. “It was definitely a teamwork concept.” 

With Kitti and Airman Belward due in Afghanistan in a week, the options were limited. They could either perform the root canal at the air base in Southwest Asia, send the dog to be treated at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, or pull the tooth altogether. 

Airman Belward said he was apprehensive about the procedure. 

“I was nervous about it,” he said. “It’s one of her key things for protecting herself, for protecting me.” 

Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams of the 218th MD said the procedure had a 95 percent success rate. 

“I have a good staff with a good anesthesia technician, a good, healthy dog and a strong source of experience,” she said. “We can do it here, invest a little time here and send her on her way.” 

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Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Henderson drills a hole in the tooth of Air Force military working dog Kitti to perform a root canal with the assistance of Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Dr. Henderson is a 386th Expeditionary Medical Group dentist. Captain Williams is a 218th Medical Detachment veterinarian. The 386th EMDG and the 218th staffs had to combine their resources and experience for the dog’s operation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson)

Sending the dog back to Lackland AFB would take a week, and the vets were reluctant to pull the tooth because doing so weakens the jaw. Dog teeth are more deeply rooted and pulling a tooth requires pulling a bit of bone as well, Captain Williams said. 

“Patrol dogs need to be able to bite people and keep them from running away,” she said. “It’s not a mission ender. It’s like when someone has four fingers on their hand instead of five, and there’s never been a study that says being bitten with three teeth hurts less than being bitten with four.” 

“Three holes in someone is pretty bad,” Airman Belward agreed. “But four is ideal.” 

Complicating the procedure was the need for an X-ray. Senior Airman Dedric Bullock, a 386th EMDG radiologist technician, never imagined having to take X-rays of an attack dog. He said there were advantages and disadvantages to working with a dog. 

“The factors are a dog’s snout. It’s in a good aspect,” he said. “If it was in the back, there’d be no way we can do this.” 

Staff Sgt. Heather Gaffney, the 386th EMDG dental NCO in charge who is deployed from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said each patient is different, particularly the nonhuman ones. 

“Every patient has its own challenges,” she said. “Obviously a sedated dog is going to be completely different. It’s interesting. We never get to do this kind of stuff.” 

After a four-hour procedure, Kitti was in the clear with two silver fillings in her canine. 

“She’s ready to go out and win the war on terrorism,” Airman Belward said. 

Dr. Henderson said that aside from lacking a tool neither he nor Dr. Williams possessed and having to work through it, the procedure went according to the plan. 

“I said next time we should do one that’s tooth is broken even worse,” he said after the procedure. 

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Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Army Pfc. Roderick Aldrich assists Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams with the intubation of Air Force military working dog Kitti before her root canal Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Private Aldrich and Dr. Williams are assigned to the 218th Medical Detachment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson)

The native of Texas City, Texas, said the procedure was important because keeping working dogs in the fight is vital to the war effort. 

“Military working dogs are a unique, nonhuman, person-type weapons system,” Dr. Henderson said. “It’s an awesome weapon system I fully appreciate, and we have to have their capabilities in theater.” 

Dr. Williams agreed, adding that’s why she’s here in the fight. 

“It’s always good to get the dogs back on their feet, chasing bad guys and sniffing out bombs, and that’s what we do here,” she said.

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.

 

PHOTOS: K-9 Team makes ‘scents’ for Raider Brigade Soldiers

Posted in Army Dog teams, military working dog handlers, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by wardogmarine

By Sgt. David Hodge

1st BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Sgt. Craig Walker, military dog handler, and Belgian Malanois, Carla, a military working dog, part of the Falcon K-9 Team, attached to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. Walker, a native of Kelso, Wash., is part of the 40th Military Police Detachment, out of Fort Sill, Okla., deployed to Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district. The Falcon K-9 Team joined Soldiers from the 1st “Raider” Brigade and Iraqi Security Forces during a combined cordon and search operation to find weapons and explosives in Rashid’s Abu T’shir community.

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – A military working dog named Carla, a Belgian Malanois trained to sniff out weapons and explosives, digs into a scent inside an abandoned house in the Abu T’shir community of the Rashid district in southern Baghdad. Sgt. Craig Walker, a military dog handler from Kelso, Wash., part of the 40th Military Police Detachment out of Fort Sill, Okla., leads Carla during combined operations with Iraqi Security Forces and Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to search for any signs of activity. The 40th MP Det. is attached to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., Multi-National Division – Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Sgt. Craig Walker, military dog handler from Kelso, Wash., part of the K-9 Team, assigned to the 40th Military Police Detachment, attached to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, leads his partner, a Belgian Malanois dog named Carla, through an abandoned house during combined operations in the Abu T’shir community in the Rashid district.

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Sgt. James Bowhay, a cavalry scout from San Angelo, Texas, assigned to Troop C, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, helps military working dog, Carla, a Belgian Malanois, part of the Falcon K-9 Team, over a wall and into the hands of her owner, Sgt. Craig Walker, a dog handler, from Kelso, Wash., during a combined cordon and search operation in Abu T’shir. Capt. Sean Tennimon, a native of Mobile, Ala. and commander of Troop C, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav., helped Walker, who is part of the K-9 Team assigned to the 40th Military Police Detachment, out of Fort Sill, Okla., attached to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B. The K-9 Team supports the 1st “Raider” Brigade deployed to Forward Operating Base Falcon, located in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad.

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Military working dog, Carla, a Belgian Malanois, sniffs out a scent while looking for explosives and weapons in the Abu T’shir community with her partner Sgt. Craig Walker, a dog handler assigned to the 40th Military Police Battalion, out of Fort Sill, Okla. Walker, a native of Kelso, Wash., is part of the Falcon K-9 Team, assigned to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, deployed to Forward Operating Base Falcon in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Carla and Walker assist Soldiers of the 1st “Raider” BCT during combined operations to provide security for the Iraqi people.

Kunsan Air Base, Korea military working dog team

Posted in Army Dog teams, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by wardogmarine

Another great video featuring a mwd team in Korea. Every time I hear a military working dog handler get interviewed they can’t help themselves and say that they get paid to play and work with dogs, how great is that. Although, as much fun as it is, you better believe that it is serious business when it comes time to training. These dog teams are counted on to save lives overseas and throughout the world .