How America’s elite military dogs are trained to save lives


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  8 months ago  •  45 comments

How America’s elite military dogs are trained to save lives
Many of the nation’s military working dogs are trained at Joint Base San Antonio, where puppies learn from a very young age how to work through distractions and sniff out danger.


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Buzz of the Orient
1  Buzz of the Orient    8 months ago

My comment disappeared yet again.

A 1946 movie that shows the training of war dogs is Courage of Lassie. The Collie has its ear tattooed for identification, and when serving with the armed forces saves the lives of a group of soldiers who were stranded.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    8 months ago


Not sure why your comment disappeared unless you tried to post before the little circle stopped spinning. 

I loved Lassie when I was a kid. We had a collie when that show was popular. They are very loyal and sweet dogs. 

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    8 months ago

At first I might not have been but now I'm careful to see that my comment actually posts before I click to go elsewhere.  

When I was a young kid a distant cousin had a Collie that had one blue eye and one brown eye - a fact I've never forgotten.

Paula Bartholomew
1.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    8 months ago

So did I.  But one thing puzzles me.  There have been numerous spin offs of Lassie and in one, Lassie had puppies.  How does that work when except for the original movie, the different Lassies have been male?  Here is a fun trivia for you.  Jed Allen (RIP) was up for one of the spin offs and had to meet Lassie.  You could have been the most successful actor in history but if Lassie didn't like you, you did not get the part.  Mr Allen knew someone who raised collies and played with one that was in heat before the meeting.  Lassie loved him from minute one and he was cast as Scott Turner.

1.1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.1.2    8 months ago

Ha!  Very clever of Mr. Allen.

Paula Bartholomew
1.1.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.1.3    8 months ago

I know many stories of how some actors and actresses employed quite clever means to get roles.

1.1.5  XDm9mm  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.1.2    8 months ago
How does that work when except for the original movie, the different Lassies have been male?

Literary, or in those cases Hollywood License!!

Plus, the long hair of a Collie played a pivotal role in hiding certain anatomical 'equipment'. 

2  Freefaller    8 months ago

I know we always appreciated having the bomb sniffer dogs around in Afghanistan

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Freefaller @2    8 months ago

They save a lot of lives, so I can understand your feelings. I bet that pup got a lot of love from your troops. 

2.1.1  Freefaller  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1    8 months ago

Perrie they did get a lot of love, but only from a distance.  Their handlers preferred we didn't interact with them as it could mess with their training.

2.1.2  cjcold  replied to  Freefaller @2.1.1    8 months ago

My brother in-law was Iowa HP K-9. I loved his dog and I was one of the few people the dog tolerated. Have always had big dogs myself and everybody is happier when training is a constant source of fun. 

2.1.3  Freefaller  replied to  cjcold @2.1.2    8 months ago
Have always had big dogs myself and everybody is happier when training is a constant source of fun. 

Absolutely agree, my faves are husky followed by german shepherd.

2.2  loki12  replied to  Freefaller @2    8 months ago

We were working with the DEA in a joint operation, We all started laughing when one of the dogs hit on a DEA officers bag, turns out the dog was original trained to hit on explosives and hit on the bag because of his service weapon and a bunch of 12 Ga. shells, he got ribbed for weeks.  

There isn't a price high enough for those dogs. Period!

3  badfish    8 months ago


Every young pup needs a role model.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
3.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  badfish @3    8 months ago

She's a cutie. 

3.1.1  badfish  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.1    8 months ago

Well that's why she's forgiven for eating my flip flops and a dozen other items. 

4  JaneDoe    8 months ago
where puppies learn from a very young age how to work through distractions and sniff out danger.

My boy likes to sniff out tennis balls and squirrels.


Perrie Halpern R.A.
4.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  JaneDoe @4    8 months ago

That is what my shep liked to sniff out, too. Really good looking pup. 

4.1.1  JaneDoe  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1    8 months ago

Thank you.

4.1.2  badfish  replied to  JaneDoe @4.1.1    8 months ago

Great looking dog.

I've got another shepherd that is 11. I had him trained at a shepherd facility and in 2013 those morons were grooming him while i was returning from a fishing trip and they left him unattended and he was lost.

I settled with them and had a female who has subsequently passed away brought in from Frankfurt Germany. They paid for it and then some. 

2 months later he showed up weighing half his body weight. He was hit a few times crossing highways trying to get home. His temperament was different after his injuries and we just keep him at home because he gets so much anxiety about leaving. My kids treat him like a hero because his journey was quite the physical challenge.

The new shepherd I am training myself. She is a piece of cake to train. She isn't interested in anything but praise and positive affirmation. If you have to tell her no, she hides her head. It's really funny to see one trying so hard to do right.

4.1.3  JaneDoe  replied to  badfish @4.1.2    8 months ago

Thanks Fish. Your Jewel is beautiful and so is your old fella! I am not the least bit surprised that he made it back home to his family. They are so intelligent and loyal. Your kids are right, he is a hero!

I have always been a fan of German Shepherds. My parents bred them. Well, 2 litters, then my Mom was done. She couldn’t put up with all the crying and whining we would do when people came to buy them. They have always been my pet of choice.

I can picture how adorable it is when Jewel hides her head when told no. My boy has a way of facing straight ahead while moving just his eyes to look at you and see if you are over it yet and ready to pet him.

Sadly over the last 3 years we lost 2 of our boys. One was 13 the other 9. It really just sucks when they leave us. I am sorry about your loss.

Paula Bartholomew
4.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JaneDoe @4    8 months ago

My ex fiance had a dog who had an obsession with rocks.  Bucky used to carry them around and relocate them into piles.  When he could not find any laying around, he would dig them up.  He would also bring rocks and drop them at the feet of people, totally pleased with himself like cats who present their owners with dead birds.

4.2.1  JaneDoe  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4.2    8 months ago

That’s funny and so similar to mine except he is obsessed with his tennis balls.

One day I cleared the yard of all his balls so we could mow and he actually found this tiny piece, dropped it on my foot wanting me to throw it for him. Crazy dog!


Paula Bartholomew
4.2.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JaneDoe @4.2.1    8 months ago

Another friend had an Irish setter who would take rolled up socks and drop them into the bathtub when she was taking a bath.

4.2.3  JaneDoe  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4.2.2    8 months ago

Irish Setters are beautiful dogs. I hope the socks were clean ones. 😀

Paula Bartholomew
4.2.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JaneDoe @4.2.3    8 months ago

If they weren't, they were after being dropped in the bath water.  Although that dog was lovable and beautiful, he was not all there due to the inbreeding for the coat color.  Still, he always made me smile with his antics.

4.3  cjcold  replied to  JaneDoe @4    8 months ago

Looks like a wolf. Are you sure it isn't?

4.3.1  JaneDoe  replied to  cjcold @4.3    8 months ago

You’re  not the first to have said that but we are sure. 😀

He is a pure bred out of Baron Von Stoltz and Pickering’s Zoe.

Here he is as a pup and later when my bad influence got to him. 



Paula Bartholomew
4.3.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  cjcold @4.3    8 months ago

Did you read the story about the family who had what they thought was a dog but it turned out to be a bear?

Paula Bartholomew
4.3.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JaneDoe @4.3.1    8 months ago


Greg Jones
5  Greg Jones    8 months ago

Bred to be more of a active working dog instead of a family pet, the Belgian Malinois is quite popular.

5.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Greg Jones @5    8 months ago

My neighbor had 2 Malinois.  And yeah, he said that if they weren't old and lazy, he wouldn't trust them around his young daughter, but they were pretty good senior dogs.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Greg Jones @5    8 months ago

Until this report, I had never heard of a Belgian Malinois. Thanks for the info!

Greg Jones
5.2.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.2    8 months ago

If you watched "Person of Interest" the dog on that show was a Mali.

More info about the breed.

5.2.2  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.2    8 months ago

There is a book entitled, ''Always Faithful''. The story of the Marine Corps first war dogs. The book is written by William Putney a Marine Corps officer that trained and lead the dogs in the second battle of Guam in WWII....The book is well worth reading.

Photo of the War Dog Cemetary on Guam honoring the 25 War Dogs that were killed in that battle. 


5.2.3  1stwarrior  replied to  Greg Jones @5.2.1    8 months ago

Luv'd that show and luv'd Bear.

5.2.4  Freefaller  replied to  1stwarrior @5.2.3    8 months ago

Same here and was disappointed when the series ended

Paula Bartholomew
5.2.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @5.2.2    8 months ago

Is the statue that of a dobie?

6  KDMichigan    8 months ago

Not all dogs have to be big to be war dogs.

Heavy fighting had damaged the squad’s communications center. To repair it, a wire would need to be fed through a 70-foot-long, 8-inch-in-diameter underground culvert beneath a crucial taxiway. Digging up the taxiway would take three days and make dozens of their men sitting ducks for enemy bombers, in addition to hampering air operations.
There was only one option for solving the problem that didn’t risk human lives: sending Smoky through the culvert with the wire attached to her. This method would take just several minutes and keep everyone in the 26th safe. Smoky, however, would be very much at risk.
Wynne agreed on the conditions that all air activity above them cease while Smoky was underground and that if Smoky became stuck, they would dig her out from directly above her location in the culvert.
He checked out the three drainage pipes under the taxiway. Two were fully clogged, but one had about 4 inches of visible space that Smoky could fit through. They chose that pipe for the mission.
One end of the wire was attached to Smoky’s collar. Wynne placed Smoky at the opening of the pipe and raced to the other end. He laid on the ground, put his face next to the pipe and yelled, “Come, Smoky, come!”
After a brief hesitation, Smoky made her way into the pipe, her tiny paws scraping the bottom as a commander unfurled the wire. But about halfway through, her pull on the wire stopped. The wire was stuck, and as Smoky struggled to free herself, she kicked up a storm of dust. Now, no one could even see the dog in the pipe.After a few tense seconds, though, the wire was freed, and Smoky ran scrambling out into Wynne’s arms.
Mission accomplished.


6.1  badfish  replied to  KDMichigan @6    8 months ago
Perrie Halpern R.A.
6.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  badfish @6.1    8 months ago

Wow, who knew. I will have to tell Wally! 

7  Kavika     8 months ago

Not all War Dogs have to be dogs. 

Cher Ami: The Pigeon that Saved the Lost Battalion

By Adam Bieniek
Staff Writer

Many of us have heard of the Lost Battalion, and know some of the story. What is not commonly known is the role of a remarkable pigeon, named Cher Ami. That little bird became one of the greatest heroes of World War I.

Cher_Ami.jpg Cher Ami at the Smithsonian Institution. (Photo by Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History) Cher Ami was one of almost 600 carrier pigeons employed by the US Army Signal Corps during the First World War. Carrier pigeons were invaluable , in spite of the advances in communications technology during the war. Radios were not as reliable since they were large and still bound by delicate wires. It also was not always possible to lay new wires quickly, and often could be extremely dangerous. While not necessarily a popular form of communication, pigeons did prove a reliable one. The average homing pigeon can fly approximately fifty miles per hour, making them a quick method of communication. Still, these pigeons often proved popular targets to enemy gunfire despite their speed. In fact, German machine gunners trained diligently to both spot and kill these birds with their deadly MG 08s, which could fire over 500 rounds per minute. Pigeons could also be a very risky way to communicate, because if a pigeon was shot down, the message could easily be intercepted by enemy forces. cher-ami-2.jpg The US Army Signal Corps used some 600 pigeons in WW1.

It was during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 1918 where the carrier pigeon was finally recognized for its valiant efforts. On October 2nd, 1918, American soldiers from the 77th Division pushed too far into the Argonne Forest and became trapped behind German lines on the slopes of a hill. Cut off from reinforcements and supplies, roughly 550 men from the 306th, 307th, and 308th regiments under Major Charles Whittlesey held their ground against a far larger German force for several days. Far beyond radio range, the only way the Americans could communicate with their own lines was via carrier pigeon. However, it did not take long to realize that the skies were as dangerous as the ground. Trapped in a horrible meatgrinder of machine guns and rain, the Lost Battalion held their ground against vicious German attacks.

On October 4th, American heavy artillery started to bombard the Lost Battalion’s position on accident, killing thirty men as they held the line. Major Whittlesey and his men watched as bird after bird fell out of a sky torn apart by German fire. With supplies running out and casualties mounting rapidly, Major Whittlesey desperately sent out his last pigeon, Cher Ami, to the American lines with a note that simply read, “We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.” With fire raining down on them from all sides, Cher Ami was now the last chance for the Lost Battalion to walk off that hill alive.

cher.ami-capt.jpg Capt John Carney, Cher Ami's trainer, holds the feathered hero. The brave bird flew straight into the German fire, dodging bullets as he went. However, his luck did not last for long. Cher Ami was hit in the chest soon after takeoff, as American soldiers watched in horror as their last hope hit the ground. Against all odds though, Cher Ami got up again! Wounded but still alive, the little bird took flight again, charging head-on into wave after wave of gunfire. By the end of the trip, he covered 25 miles in roughly half an hour. He arrived at base heavily wounded, but alive.   croix_de_gurre.png The Croix de Guerre with Palm military decoration of France, awarded to Cher Ami. Army medics were able to save Cher Ami’s life, but his right leg was barely attached to his body and he was blind in one eye. However, because of Cher Ami’s delivery, the artillery stopped and took up new firing coordinates away from American lines. The next day, shells started to fall on German positions, relieving pressure on the bloodied 77th and the battle turned in America’s favor. On October 8th, one hundred and ninety-four men made it back to the American lines thanks to Cher Ami’s sacrifice. 

For his part in saving the 77th Division, Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre, one of France’s highest military honors for his gallantry in the field. General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, said "There isn't anything the United States can do too much for this bird."

Cher Ami made it back to the United States in the care of its trainer, Capt John Carney.  On June 13th, 1919, Cher Ami died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. However, Cher Ami’s body was preserved and presented to the American Government with honor. It is difficult to say how many families owe their existence to the sheer courage and self-sacrifice of one brave bird. Today, Cher Ami is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History to preserve his memory. Since then, his story has lived on in the hearts and minds of Americans across the decades, and his bravery will never be forgotten.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
7.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @7    8 months ago

Very cool Kavika! I never knew that story. 

Paula Bartholomew
7.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @7    8 months ago

Never has a story about a pigeon reduced me to tears.

8  badfish    8 months ago

Lizards have also been used by the military.



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