Military Dogs Honored in Washington DC

Last week four military dogs received the Nation’s highest honor. Fieldy, Isky, Bond, and Matty were all recipients of the inaugural K-9 Medal of Courage, presented by the American Humane Society.

The Four-Legged Heroes

These military heroes have survived deployments, IEDs, and ambush attacks and are now enjoying retired life back on US soil. Check out each dog’s resume:

FieldyFieldy – Black Labrador Retriever

Service: Four combat tours in Afghanistan
Favorite human: U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Nick Caceres
Role: Explosives detection, saved countless human lives
Retirement plans: Enjoying civilian life; was reunited with Cpl. Caceres after being honorably discharged

Bond military dog

Bond – Belgian Malinois

Service: Three tours in Afghanistan; more than 50 combat missions
Role: Enemy apprehension and explosives detection
Retirement plans: Bond has been reunited with his handler and will help him with the transition back to civilian life in a few months.

IskyIsky – German Shepherd

Service: Four combat tours in Afghanistan
Favorite human: U.S. Army Sgt. Wess Brown
Role: Explosives detection; safeguarded four-star American generals and political personnel, including the U.S. Secretary of State in Africa and the U.S. President in Berlin
Retirement plans: Sgt. Brown and Isky were both struck and injured by IEDs several times. Isky was forced into retirement with an amputated leg, but continues to serve as Sgt. Brown’s PTSD service dog.

MattyMatty – Czech German Shepherd

Service: Served in Afghanistan
Favorite human: Retired Army Specialist Brent Grommet
Role: Explosives detection, survived an ambush
Retirement plans: Although Brent had already filled out adoption paperwork, Matty was wrongly given to someone else while he was having neurosurgery. Brent continued to search for Matty and finally, with the help of American Humane Association, these two best friends were reunited.

It’s great to see all four of these dogs were reunited with their handlers, but that wasn’t always the case! Until 2000, military dogs were euthanized or abandoned after retirement. Robby’s Law changed all of that. The law passed by Bill Clinton made it possible for all retired military dogs to be adopted, with handlers getting priority over the general public.

Selection Process

So, think your dog is cut out for the military? Not so fast; it’s a very selective process. In fact, there’s only 2,500 dogs in active service (compare that to the over 1 million active duty personnel!) and only 700 of those are deployed. First, the breed plays a role in whether the dog is considered. German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois have been recognized as the top breeds for military dogs in recent years. Here’s a little known fact: only about 15% of military dogs are bred in the United States. The other 85% are bought from Germany and the Netherlands. They must all get a green card!51784507

Lastly, behavior and other qualities come into play during the selection process. According to San Antonio Magazine, “the dogs must exhibit focused, aggressive behavior, with a heightened sense of smell and a strong desire to work for reward before they are assigned to military services worldwide.”  Once selected, about 50% of all dogs make it through training.

Honoring Military Dogs

The ceremony last week was the first ever hosted by the American Humane Association to honor military dogs with the K-9 Medal of Courage. But that’s not the only place we’ve seen appreciation for these military heroes. Check out the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument at Lackland Air Force Base if you find yourself there! The monument was unveiled in October 2013 and represents all wars since WWII and all five branches of the military.

Now for the big question. Does SaluteSpot offer a military discount for dogs? Technically, I guess you could use your “plus one” account for your dog. If you know of any local pet stores offering military discounts (to military dogs or humans), let us know in the comments!

 

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