By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Two career MWDs, both at the ripe
old age of eight, recently traded in their military leashes for the comforts of
civilian life. Brit, a German shepherd, was formerly
a "patrol narcotics detection dog for a military police unit at Joint Base
Lewis-McChord in Washington." Bubba (pictured), a chocolate lab with one tour
in Iraq and one in Afghanistan behind him, was a bomb-sniffing dog for the Army.
Bubba's last tour in Afghanistan was apparently cut short when
the 80-pound dog took a bad tumble, falling through a canvas roof. But his new
owners, the Van Fleets, report that Bubba's wounded leg doesn't keep him from
enjoying his new home or from taking measures to keep his new family safe. The
couple, who lives in Trumansburg, NY, say that Bubba "will case
the perimeter" of their home whenever he's outside and "insists on inspecting
whatever object in one's hands."
Brit on the other hand, is continuing to offer his services
to those in the military but in a rather different capacity. Along with his new
owners, the Russells of Fayetteville, NC, Brit is making the rounds at the Womack Army Medical
Center at Fort Bragg as a therapy dog, having taken therapy-training
classes in order to assist wounded veterans. He's only made a handful of visits
so far, but his presence already seems to be making an impact.
"The boy is a traffic stop," [his owner, Russell, who
accompanies Brit on these visits] says. "Everyone stops to say hello or
give him a hug."... On several occasions, those soldiers have broken down
in tears while hugging Brit and have thanked him for the service of military
working dogs overseas...."They tell me 'When the dogs come, it makes our day.'"
Canine news of
interest: The practical use of the canine nose seems without limits. This
week I came across three very interesting articles about sniffer dogs being
used to detect some pretty unexpected...things. In Britain
dogs are helping authorities uncover
counterfeit condoms, and in California dogs are being employed to track
down fox droppings in an effort to preserve the endangered San
Joaquin kit fox. They're also using dogs to sniff out fox dens in
Queensland, Australia, though in this case it's to cull
the population, not save it. Who knew?
Rebecca Frankel, on leave from
currently writing a book about military working dogs, to be published by Atria
Books in August 2013.