By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Connecticut's 928th Military
Police Working Dog Detachment takes its canine legacy very seriously. It's a
noble one, as Stubby, the Connecticut stray-turned-war dog, was perhaps the most
decorated canine in U.S. war-dog history.
The detachment, comprised of
three German shepherds and one Belgian
Malinois (and their handlers), "is a full-time unit manned 24
hours a day, seven days a week and is the only military working dog unit in the
United States that is part of the Army Guard/Reserve component."
The 928th is just another
example of how far and wide this MWD community -- however small by comparison
in the military world -- really stretches. And these teams do more than just
run drills and patrol the Nutmeg State -- they make overseas deployments and,
earlier this week, helped patrol Boston during the marathon by "supporting
the patrol and explosives detection mission," along with the Massachusetts
National Guard and Boston Police.
Below is Balou and her handler, Army Sgt. Kimberlee Ruppar, who came
to the CT-based detachment after finishing a tour in Afghanistan last year. "She
said she feels very fortunate to work with such a dedicated organization and
When it comes to
dog-to-handler pairings, these teams are in many ways more like police dog
teams than military ones. For one, their teams' abilities run the gamut of
stateside law enforcement work -- they're trained in explosive detection work
and one of their dogs is a patrol/narcotics detection dog. But the dog-handler
relationship spans longer than just one deployment or the length of just one
home station assignment. No one's complaining about that.
"Our Soldiers are not
here for short tours," the 928th's kennel master, Army Sgt. 1st Class Gerald
Fountaine, said. "They're here for their careers. They
have bonds with their dogs that won't be found elsewhere."
In other war-dog news: For
those of you living in or around the DC/Maryland area, tomorrow America's VetDogs will host its 4th Annual Annapolis 5K Run & Dog Walk.
This is a wonderful organization that provides therapy service dogs to
veterans. I've known these folks for years -- full disclosure, I write about
them in War
Dogs -- and we've been following
the good work of the committed individuals who run this charity event each
year. Don't miss it: Registration
starts at 7:30 am; more details here.
Rebecca Frankel is senior editor, special projects at Foreign
Policy. Her forthcoming book War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love
comes out on Oct. 14 from Palgrave Macmillan.
Update: Due to a technical error the original formatting of this post was lost in a previously circulated version. The links attributing the source of the quotes -- Staff Sgt. Benjamin Simon of the Connecticut National Guard -- have been restored.
Photo by Connecticut National Guard; Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Fountaine, 928th MWD Kennel Master