Archive for November 11, 2008

US War Dogs Association – Helping our Four-Legged Veterans


We *heart* working dogs, especially those that serve in our armed forces. And today TheExaminer reports on our four-legged veterans:

U.S. military dogs have served our country since World War I. The program began with a handful of dogs and peaked during the Viet Nam War. The official list contains the names of 3,747 military K-9s but, there are estimates that 4,900 dogs actually served. The statistics breakdown as follows: 65% of the K-9s served in the Army, 26% Air Force, 7% Marines and 2% Navy. The majority of these dogs were not allowed to return home to the United States.
Today, war dogs are being used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan and although the military has made concessions about allowing them to return home, most of their futures are uncertain. To honor their dedication and sacrifice, the men who served as handlers for these four-legged soldiers established the U.S. War Dog Association.  
From WCSH Portland, ME:

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Eight to 10 years is a full military career for dogs used by the Armed Services, but what happens when those dogs are retired?

Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association, said about 2,500 canines are active war dogs, with about 700 of those serving in the Middle East. Aiello said upon retirement, some dogs are adopted by law enforcement agencies and others are distributed to former handlers.

It is sometimes possible for civilians to adopt dogs that are considered not too aggressive by contacting the military, and Aiello’s organization is trying tie up loose ends that could leave some dogs euthanized.

The US War Dogs Assocation is a nonprofit organization of Former and Current US Military Dog Handlers and supporting members committed to promoting the long history of the Military Service Dogs, establishing permanent War Dog Memorials, and educating the public about the invaluable service of these canines to our country. They run several programs to inform the public about the important sacrifices made by war dogs; to provide financial support to service dog organizations like military units, police canines and search and rescue dogs; and help find homes for retired military and police canines.

Sadly, many of these brave dogs don’t get the kind safe retirement they deserve.  Again from WCSH:

“They are considered disposable material by the higher-up people that don’t know what these dogs do,” Antoinette Bishop said.

[…]  The Bishops care for 18 dogs, including 10 they’ve adopted through NERO, named for a K9 who died from cancer in March 2005. They placed a former Spartanburg Public Safety Department K9 with a home in Texas.

Aiello said that many of the war dogs used in Vietnam were too aggressive for civilian adoption, but strides have been made with agencies that retrain the dogs. He said adoption of military dogs was established in November 2000, and the government routes most war dogs in America to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Antoinette Bishop said the more aged the dog, the less likely it is to be adopted by a law enforcement agency. She said 281 were adopted, 74 were waiting to be adopted and 116 were euthanized in 2006.

Some former handlers are interested in adopting a dog but are still on tours of duty. NERO is able to help that process by caring for the dog until the owner returns.

Interested in helping?

To donate to the US War Dogs Association War Dog Memorial CLICK HERE

To buy US War Dogs merchandise CLICK HERE

For an application to adopt a retired military dog CLICK HERE 
(this is NOT a decision to take lightly and I am sure that USWDA screens applicants very carefully)

November 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm 2 comments

Not Casting Stones

From the Keene Sentinel:

PRYOR, Okla. — A dog waiting in a car while at a car wash slipped the vehicle into gear and drove in a loop before the car came to a stop. Pryor police officer Brent Crittenden said the dog’s owner was washing the vehicle when the 70-pound pit bull jumped on the dash and somehow shifted the car into reverse.

The car backed out of the car wash bay, continued onto a highway and then looped around before coming to a stop at an automated car wash lane.

Crittenden said the vehicle was impounded because its owner was unable to provide proof of insurance.

You’re probably thinking that I’m going to use this story to launch into a rant about irresponsible dog owners.  And — in this case you’re wrong.

I’m not casting any stones here because about 25 years ago, a strikingly similar thing happened to me.

Dog (yes, that really was his name) was a very large (80-lb), very exuberant (do they come any other way?) German Shorthair Pointer.  He and his buddy Keno the Aussie were the companions of evil ex-husband and I on many hiking and camping trips. Dog was no rocket scientist but he knew the difference between a suitcase and a backpack and when the backpacks came out he would become absolutely delirious with excitement.

So, on this particular sunny, autumn day I was busy sorting and stowing gear into packs, checking and double-checking supplies and running back and forth to the car to pack up our gear for a weekend trip. The dogs were amping up but generally behaving themselves – staying in the house as I took each trip to the carport and refraining from knocking over furniture or breaking lamps in their mounting enthusiasm.

Until… the sierra cup fell off my pack just as I stepped through the door. As I held the door open and bent over to pick it up, Dog apparently mistook my butt for a release command and I was knocked flat by a liver and white blur. I picked myself up and saw Dog in the back seat of the car – grinning from ear to ear and vibrating in anticipation.

“&%@# dog. You’re sitting right where I need to stow this pack. GIT!”  And being, generally, a good dog, git is exactly what he did.  In a flash he had leapt between the bucket seats and into… the driver’s seat.

Did I mention that all four of the car’s door were open? And that it was parked on a hill? And that I had been a compleat moron and forgot to set the parking brake?

The next thing I know my car is rolling backwards down the driveway at an alarming rate of speed (think steep hill) with all four doors open and a large and very happy dog sitting proudly in the driver’s seat. Somehow he managed to make the corner at the bottom of the drive and sped off – flying backwards down the street.  He managed to make it about four houses down the street where, in another amazing feat of luck inconvenience he managed to execute another turn into my neighbor’s driveway where he crashed into an enormous Chevy Suburban.

Upon impact, Dog (apparently being, at heart, a coward) leapt out of the car and ran off to hide in the shrubs near our front door. Incredibly, the Suburban’s owner was standing next to his vehicle (which was, by the way, his pride and joy) when the incident occurred. As I stood there, not knowing what to say (or whether to run) he started to laugh. The poor guy laughed so hard I thought he was going to wet his pants (thus adding dry cleaning fees to the day’s geometrically expanding list of dog-related expenses.)

I called Dog back. Mad as hell at him and even madder at myself for being the clueless dolt who had (albeit inadvertently) set up the entire unfortunate situation we were in – I was also relieved to see that Dog was completely unfazed by the incident. Sadly, my little car had not fared so well. The driver’s door was crumpled and its window was broken, the frame between the two driver’s side doors was bent – pulling the middle of the roof down slightly – and several creases now ran the length of its body.  In yet another odd quirk of fate, the Suburban somehow survived the episode with nothing more than a hand-sized dent in its rear bumper.

Suburban man admitted that ordinarily he would make a major issue of such a thing and demand that his baby be restored back to the pristine condition she’d been in before the accident – but he wanted to keep this little dent intact so he could tell all his friends the story of the dog that wrecked his car.

November 11, 2008 at 3:47 am 1 comment

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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November 2008