Archive for usmc

‘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)


Marine Corps Mascot Retires

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , on August 4, 2008 by wardogmarine

Marine Mascot “Chesty” Retires
 After 7 Years Active Duty, English Bulldog Steps Down For Younger Dog

(Dept of Defense

(CBS) Nobody does pomp and circumstance like the Marines, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. 

Its silent drill team is precision personified. Imagine how much practice it takes to pull a ceremony off. 

But here comes the real star of the show the Marines put on every Friday during the summer – Chesty, the Marine Corps’ mascot. He’s named not for his physique, but for the most decorated of all Marines, Chesty Puller. 

Behind that 15 seconds of fame stands his handler, Corp. Moncelly Fuller. 

“He actually has more medals than me,” Fuller said. 

And Gunnery Sgt. William Dixon keeps Chesty’s service record. That’s right – his service record. 

“He’s got three paw prints here. That means he got written up three times?” Martin asked. 

“He got counseled three times,” Dixon said. 

He fell asleep on duty. 

“He fell asleep — not on duty, but at rehearsal,” Dixon said. 

“Exactly how do you counsel a dog?” Martin asked. 

“Well, you bring him in, you sit him down face to face, Marine to Marine, commanding officer to Marine, and you tell him like it is,” Dixon said. 

How did he take to counseling? 

“Not too good,” Dixon said. 

Would he call Chesty recalcitrant? 

“I would,” Dixon said. 

Truth be told, Chesty is not honed to the same razor’s edge as the silent drill team. Even his owners, fellow Marines Michael and Kristen Mergen, will admit that. 

“Basically his one and only job is to walk down center walk on parade and sit,” Mergen said.

You’ll notice that on one night, a parade in honor of Defense Secretary Gates, Chesty doesn’t sit. 

“My theory is that his uniform is getting a little tight on him so … ” Kristen Mergen said. 

Is he putting on the pounds? 

“It may be that. I think it’s his hips, too. Hence the need for a new mascot,” she said. 

After seven years – make that 49 in dog years – during which he rose through the ranks to sergeant, Chesty is being replaced. Being the Marine mascot is a young dog’s game. 

But if it strikes you as just a game, then you don’t understand the Marines. 

“Do you ever say to yourself, ‘hey, wait a minute, this is just a dog’?” Martin asked. 

“I do not, because I understand and I respect the role of mascot,” Dixon said. “It’s how we showcase and highlight what we do.” 

And yes, there will be a retirement ceremony after Chesty walks through the gates of the Marine Barracks for the last time tomorrow. 

You can see the article in it’s entirety here. “Marine Mascot Chesty Retires”

 WASHINGTON-Sgt. Chesty XII, the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington, stands at attention as his retirement certificate is read during his retirement ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, July 25. Chesty served for 40 dog years as mascot., Lance Cpl. Jacob H. Harrer, 7/25/2008 3:56 AMRetirement will mark the first time Chesty XII has taken leave in six years. The break will give him a chance to do some of his favorite things, which include taking naps and playing with small toys and basketballs, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Mergen.


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

Bonding With “Brikhouse”

Posted in dogs, Marine dog teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2008 by wardogmarine

Here are a few pictures and a video of Marine Sgt Joseph Prado and his war dog Brik, nicknamed “Brikhouse”. Sgt Prado was very proud of and loved his mwd(military working dog) so much that he wrote about his bond with his war dog and included it on one of his favorite photos. Prado has left the Marines while Brik continues to serve his country with the Corps.

Night vision view of Sgt Prado and Brik

IED’s detected by Brik

Brik with his well deserved award for saving lives.

Brik and Sgt Prado conducting a vehicle search 

War dog Robby NUT CHECKS his handler

Posted in dogs, Marine dog teams, Military Working Dogs, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2008 by wardogmarine

Military working dog Robby was nothing less than a beast. He was a Shepherd weighing in about 105 pounds. He was big, very strong, and a solid working dog while in the Marine Corps. All around Robby was a great mwd, however he had one thing that always kept handlers that knew him on alert-he was crazy. Dogs have personalities just like humans do and if there is a way to describe Robby I would say that he was a schizophrenic maniac. It was difficult because for the most part he was a playful and jovial dog that people could pet and even see themselves bonding with. However, out of nowhere and sometimes without any provocation he would snap and have one of his “episodes” where he went after anyone including his handlers. I don’t mean to just take a quick nip at someone either, I mean full out killer on the loose status.

Robby served his country by doing a tour in Iraq and also provided security on presidential missions. His presence was powerful and was a great psychological deterrent for would be attackers. He ended up with degenerative disorders that were uncorrectable and eventually had to be put down. R.I.P., Semper Fi
Here are a couple videos of Robby serving in Iraq with his handler Sgt Jason Cannon.


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)