Gunner was a trained sniffer dog who was sent home from Afghanistan after he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder. He is now living with the Duhams, whose marine son had died serving in the frontline of Iraq. Follow their touching story and their road to recovery.
Debuted in August of 2013, Animal Planet’s show : Glory Hounds is definitely a must watch in everyones books. Journalist and filmmakers from the special production crew follow and document the journey of military working dogs in some of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan.
It almost took a year for the network to gain access into special area combat zones which make it all the more intriguing to follow! Did you know that the camera teams over six week training just to catch up with the soldiers? Amazing right!
As the show follows the stories of different cases and friendships, each one reminds us of just how important these animals are to our troops who are overseas. Military working dogs should not only be seen as the brave heroes of our frontline force but also the ones who make a difference to protecting our borders overseas. The sad truth is that like all troops who fight and sacrifice their lives for the country, many return changed forever and maybe won’t even return at all.
Military working dogs are definitely not only surplus equipment that is used by the military, just like any other ordinary soldier but with four paws instead of two feet. Lets look at Air Force Staff: Sergeant Len Anderson and his working dog Azza.
Anderson never had imagine that he and Azza would end up in the frontline and combat zone after being deployed. The German Shepard was able to pick up any sound and hint of dangerous bombs whist doing their regular patrols. It was one time where he lost six fingers and severe trauma to his leg after a roadside bomb had been detonated. Although he had his left hand amputated after this experience, he will never forget the day Azza had save his life. If he had walked any further he would have lost his life.
The pair are recovering well and insure that the injuries will not deter them from continuing their work. it is encouraging to head that Anderson is now serving to help continue training and working with the K-9 team.
“Any time a dog saves a life, whether it’s just the handler or the troops behind her, that puts you in a whole different category with the dogs…Once they save a life, that’s a soldier standing there beside us. It’s not a dog anymore. They’re never a piece of equipment. They’re a fellow soldier. They just have a different dangerous job, and they can’t shoot a gun.”
Sourced from original story from HLNTV
Meet our next handsome military dog breed who also reigns from Europe! The Belgian Malinois is an extrmeley popular working dog used by the military as well. Don’t confuse its looks with its distant cousin the German Shepherd, this dog Is highly skilled and makes a good working animal.
Description: The Belgian Malinois shares a similar structure to the German Sheperd and has a body that is often described as square. They are similar in side and have a weather resistant double coat which is short and straight. Their coat colours range from a rich fawn red, mahogany and black.
History: The Belgian Malinois is one of Belgians four sheepdogs. They are accustomed to an active outdoor life style which allows them to exert their intelligence. Although this breed is rare in the USA, they are popularly used as frontline dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are versatile and are used not only for police work. They are also used for narcotic and bomb detection, protection and Schutzhund, search and rescues and even being assistant to the disabled.
Personality: A smart and obedient dog , the Belgian Malinois has a strong and protective territorial instinct. They need strong leadership from a companion who needs to display a natural authority over the dog. This breed can be trained easily and is socialised very well if gained from a young age. They are known to be watchful, alert and highly loyal. Along with daily exercise they need high energy workouts to keep up with their high mental capacity.
These dogs can be dominant around other dogs and need strong communication to ensure dominance in the relationship, and need a very experienced owner to control. They will sometime display herding behaviours such as chasing and circling.
Chosen for their speed, endurance, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any working climate, the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breed used in working animals. The German Shepherd is also know for their fierce loyalty and their ability to have hear noises from miles away before humans can.
Reigning from Karlsruhe, Germany, Captian Max Von Stephanitz is believed to have produced one of the most responsive and obedient dogs in history. They are often used a police dogs all over the world and have gained attention through movies such as Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart.
Description: A strong and well proportioned muscular dog. The front legs and shoulders are of muscular built and their thighs are thick and sturdy and agile enough to run at high speeds. German Shepherd Dog come in three varieties: double coat, plush coat and longhaired coat.
German Shepherds are known to be courageous, keen, alert and fearless when exposed to different situations. They are very cheerful and are eager too learn new tricks and skills. Whilst being an agile dog they also have a tranquil side which expresses their confidence and inner intelligence. German Shepherds are extremely faithful and will not think twice about giving up their life for their owners.
They are close to the ones around them and are very cautious around strangers, this is a mandatory skill in the military as they have a strong protective instant. They are believed to be one of the most smartest and trainable dog breeds.
The army has a strict training policy surrounding these MWD, who go through almost 16 hours of training every month covering areas from detection and patrolling. It is important that these K9 heroes are maintaining a proficiency of detection from 90-95%. Each handler will be assigned their working dog after it has successfully been trained to allow easy adaption into the team. The dog will be able to learn even more skills with its partner and build strong rapport with the animal.
Did you know that all dogs who are trained with the military need to go through mandatory health, intelligence and physical challenges before they are even allowed to get into training? These dogs deserve a big pat on the back to keep up with their 2 legged companions (or perhaps for the troops to keep up with them)
Key characteristics within MWD would include an important mix between
5) Athletic ability
So what are some of the roles which these canine companions will be placed in? There are many who work in the front of the line whilst others have also been needed as media dogs. Common roles include:
Sentry dogs (who work to deal with intruders)
Mine dogs (trained to delegate with bombs and tripwires)
Scout of patrol (trained to help with snipers and ambushers)
Drug dogs (sniff out foreign drug dealers and drug lords)
Hope this was an insightful summary to how these dogs are trained and their role in the military! Keep your eyes peeled for our new blog post series: Military breeds which will be coming soon…
Did you know dogs can also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? PTSD is a newly adopted concept that veterinarians are still discussing upon, but it is certain that many military dogs will suffer from this reality after their service.
Here are some signs to watch out for whether you have adopted a retired military working dog or just your normal canine companion at home.
1) If dog reacting to situations more emotionally than usual? Perhaps they are not responding the way other dogs around them.
2) Does your furry companion seem depressed and inactive. Perhaps there is a change in appetite and even sleep habits.
So what happens now?
The treatment of dogs with PTSD is usually delegated by a animal behaviourist. They will look at options such as counter-conditioning, basic training and even behavioural exercises that you are able to do with them at home.
To some extent your furry friend might even need prescription anxiety medicine, food therapy, herb therapy or over the counter pheromone supplements. The majority of PTSD patients can be treated after some TLC so please make sure have an allocated amount of time to spend with your four legged friend everyday. Even if it is only 5 minutes , you are the only one they have in their lives.
Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian as soon as you suspect a change in your dog’s behaviour and attitude. it is better to seek the help of a trained professional for these complex and behavioural issues to ensure that the dog is fully recovered to its pre-trauma state.
It is estimated that over the span of their service, a military solider will save over 150 soldiers lives. These animals are not only the furry heroes in the frontline force but also brace service animals who also deserve a respectable name. According to figures from the Ministry of Defence, over 807 military working dogs have been killed in America, due to the same excuse that has been repeated over and over again.
The date that these loyal animals are too fierce to be retained as pet and can become violent after service is not backed up by sufficient research whatsoever. So why should these animals be treated any different to retired soldiers?
The figures show that this is not only an increasing and worry trend that is often neglected amongst military debates but also an ongoing issue that as not been addressed enough. From the 2002-2011 the number of troops who were stationed to Iraq was increased. The number of MWD (Military Working Dogs) that were destroyed after service rose accordingly.
Although soldiers would love to be rehomed with their furry friends after service, sending them home isn’t always the option due to financial expenses. Many animals who finish their service in war zones, whether they are healthy or deteriorating in health, will be sentenced to a cruel death.
Keep updated about our next post which will surround the debate around post traumatic stress in canines. Can it really happen? Are dogs even more susceptible to these psychological changes than humans?