By Rebecca Frankel
Chief Canine Correspondent
Mr. T. E. Ricks has asked me to select my top three favorite War Dog posts of 2011. A daunting task, but who says no to Tom? Not I.
was without a doubt, the year of the War Dog. The
sensation wrapped around Cairo, the canine reportedly on the fateful
mission that took down Osama bin Laden, cemented -- well, more like exploded --
the interest we knew was there all along. Our own War Dog photo
essay received over 8.2 million page views in May alone, making it the
most clicked on piece in Foreign Policy history. (Pardon the pre-holiday horn tooting.)
And while the Osama bin Laden dog is inarguably the most exciting and momentous tale to come out of this year's MWD highlight reel, it's not my favorite. Not even close. The stories I find are the most compelling are the ones that illustrate how powerful the dog-handler bond can be, what it's capable of, and how it makes these teams an unsurpassed force in a combat zone where, unfortunately, we still need them the most -- leading in front, clearing roads for IEDs.
While it was hard to chose, these are also the posts that prompted the most visceral responses and the most touching comments, both on the blog comment feed and off. These stories dig into the heart of why we respond to these dogs in the first place. Here they are in no particular order. Not surprisingly, my favorites posts this year were some of yours.
Some end of the year news: This note feels especially fitting as
we close in on the two-year anniversary of this Friday feature: A War Dogs book
is coming. I'm currently on leave from my desk at FP and working on war
dogs full-time. I hope to bring many dispatches and new stories as I work and
travel over the next few months. Many thanks to all of you who've been
following along, sharing your comments, your suggestions, and of course your
dogs. Happy holidays.
In the picture above, Lance Cpl. Tom Welstand, a native of Berystedmunds, England, and a military working dog handler with 103 Military Dog Squadron, shares a moment with his search dog, Steegan, during Operation Zamrod Olai, June 25, in northern Nad'Ali district, Helmand province.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.