Dogs have many talents and are often used as 'Tools' of the trade! While not everybody may recognize their worth and appreciate it, their handlers know what they can do!
I worked beside them on Frankfurt Airport when I was in the German Border Patrol. I got to see them in action and was thoroughly impressed. They were amazing!
One of the most lasting impressions was left by a giant! I don't think I have ever seen such a large Doberman before. He was build like a giant tank! And his nose was hard to beat!
Another one was by a Air Force Security Forces Belgian Malinois during a demonstration. He made the civilian police dog look bad (or should I say "Made his handler look bad!"!?).
They are amazing creatures; talented, motivated, unstoppable, faithful!
They were soldiers long before anybody could imagine how highly sophisticated a Military Working Dog and his Work will become. And while they may have started out as simple 'Sentry' Dogs, their use became more and more ...'multi-talented'!
They are now more than simple 'Nose-Artists' alerting to bombs, enemies and more. They are soldiers fighting along their comrades!
My first real encounter with them was right after 911. We had seen them before, but while I love dogs and had always been interested in them, they were just part of the picture!
911 had been a hit in the belly for a lot of us; despite being so far away from it. The situation became worse when it started to affect even our lives! Yes, we felt grief, anger and frustration and will never truly understand how the actual survivors and their families feel; but we started seeing the changes in our families, friends and ourselves. And we saw the changes around us!
After hours of lock-down we eventually went home that horrible day. The days afterwards were sheer hell (nothing like those closely affected, but our own kind of hell). It would take hours to get on and off base and everybody seemed suspicious of everything. I owned a Excursion SUV and ended up putting dog stickers on my window for every dog that searched my car while trying to get on base! It was a comic relief for the SPs and I. They would see my truck and shake their heads. We got to know each other and our jobs; and somehow we all grew closer together!
The Dogs were everywhere! They would patrol the parking lots, man the gates, be seen along the fence; always searching for dangers!
Later in in Iraq I heard stories from the handlers we flew home or to other locations. I could fill a book with all the stories, if I were to remember them all. For these handlers they weren't just supply items; they were their fellow soldiers. And more than one felt like he had his own life saved by his dog at least once!
I am grateful that the adoptable dogs are now allowed to retire and are no longer euthanized when their time is up!
More about Dogs of War
- Nam's Dog Soldiers
Thousands of Dogs 'serve' 'their country' faithfully, but are we faithful to them? The faith of the Dogs of War in Vietnam was one of the most disgraceful things I ever heard!
My 911 Experience
- The 911 Interview
My Son ask me why I thought so many would remember 911 that clearly... The horror was just unbelievable and burned itself into our hearts and minds! The pain will never truly go away; even if we weren't directly involved! The effects will always be t
How often do we think about those still working out there when we sit in front of the Christmas tree or have a good night of sleep.
Considering that they are always out there to ensure that we are safe, maybe we should think about them sometimes!
Police dogs are much more appreciated now than they were when they started. Many have received medals for bravery; just like their human counter parts.
They work in many different functions with any kind of police force. Search Dogs are working as explosive detection dogs, to find drugs or locate people (both those lost and those escaped). Security Guards work as a additional safety measure around high risk facilities or events. Even the NFL has been protected by these guardians before. In Riot Control dogs are used to provide a bit of intimidation to keep out-of-control protesters or sports fans at bay. Germany has a long history of having to use police force during Soccer Games. But most of their duty is during Patrol Duty and either on foot or out of the back of their handler's car.
A lot of these dogs have faced great danger. Criminals don't have any problems shooting at a dog send after them. Too many were killed in the Line of Duty. Only a few years ago began a trend to attempt to provide these four-legged police officers with protective equipment. This comes at a high material cost, but how can you place a price on a life that is so willing to protect us and our families?!
It is great to know that those that are adoptable are retired; just like their human counterpart. They serve faithfully and deserve a peaceful retirement and a good life! I also very much like the fact that a lot of these dogs actually live at home with their handlers during their service!
A Pitbull as a Police Dog!
- Pit Bull to be euthanized becomes police detection dog | K9 Pride
I hope more police departments take notice. Rescue dogs can become great detection dogs as Milwaukee Police Department's new detection dog, Shaka, has proven!
A little info about Pitbulls!
- It's (Pit-) Bull!
Pit-Bulls and similar breeds are often viewed as dangerous and their chance of being adopted from a 'kill-' shelter is practically zero! But is it the breed or is it the handler/owner!?
Narcotics, Money & Border Patrol
They are cops, but they specialized. They serve along borders and on airports and cause millions of dollars of damage to drug dealers and similar criminals. Their work seems never done and still they perform their duties with the same motivation every day!
Their beautiful and intelligent heads often have a bounty on it; paid for by the same dealers who's drugs and money they intercept and keep from causing more harm!
If you look at the amount of cars that cross the Mexican/American border every day, or the amount of people filling our airport terminals, you understand the amount of work these dogs have cut out for them!
Their duties are not limited to just finding drugs and money. The flood of illegal immigrants crossing our border and entering the U.S. seems to be as endless as the flood of drugs and dirty money. Their methods are as wide spread as their desperation is intense. And the methods used by those exploiting their desperation is ruthless!
These dogs are amazing athletes, highly trained and very effective. Who else could sniff out money and drugs placed in amazingly hidden compartments within often giant vehicles. Their noses are hard to fool and their courage impressive!
Airport Security: A different kind of Border
The largest and most solid Doberman I ever saw was working Frankfurt Airport in the nineteens. I'm not sure if he was a explosives or drug dog, but he was amazing. He would walk the terminal with his handler and seemed almost bored. In reality this cool candidate was looking for whatever substance he was trained to look for.
I was trained on the German/German border, but it came down during my first year of training (one of 2 1/2 years). I remember our parade area (or whatever you call it) being filled with Trabants. These are interesting pieces of machinery! If I am not mistaking, they only have two cylinders. Basically an over-sized lawnmower turned small car! They stank and made more ruckus than any lawnmower I ever heard in action!
When the wall came down our role changed. We were now doing more riot control (Germans are Fussball fanatics and can become quiet.... stupid about it!) during Soccer Games and when the Neue Flora opened. The 'New' Flora was build for the pleasure of watching 'Phantom of the Opera' (Hamburg used to offer the Musical 'Cats' too and is the place enlightening Theatre goers with the 'Ohnsorg Theatre'!), but it had come at the price of tearing down housing. It caused quiet a ruckus.
Eventually another 'duty' became one of our primary ones: Airport Security. We 'deployed' for two months at the time to Frankfurt Airport; a roughly 90 minute drive. We argumented the Airport branch of the Federal German Border Patrol. Our jobs were to patrol the terminals and airfield/flightline and provide High Risk Security for the terminal housing the gates for Israelian Flights. We would stand along the walk-way down from the first gate to the waiting areas or stand around the aircraft; no matter how horrible the weather was!
When we worked the terminals, we often found abandoned luggage. This is kind of amazing, considering how the entire terminal is equipped with signs warning of theft! Gangs of trained children were known to have large operations of pick-pockets in the terminal and we were always on the lookout. But people seem to be either lazy or foolish!
So when we find a piece of abandoned luggage, we would stand somewhere and observe for a while. If nobody showed up, we would call it in and the area would be cleared and roped off. If it was soft-luggage, the dogs were called to check it out. If it was hard-luggage like Samsonite suitcases, we often had to call in the experts from Wiessbaden.
And too often suddenly some fool would run up and claim the luggage as his! ...I'm not sure if they charged those fools for the expenses, but they should!
Dogs also worked outside along us. They would 'man' the luggage and cargo areas and search everything for drugs, money and explosives.
Customs had another use for their dogs! They were trained to find agricultural objects such as fruit and animals. Especially the smuggle of exotic animals is a big issue around airports. And to see the methods used for these poor creatures is absolutely ruthless! The smugglers don't expect everyone of their 'victims' to survive! And they don't!
Technique is great and has gone long ways from simply searching baggage by hand, but the dogs are as dependable as they were when they first started!
I once tried myself in this field, but found it too expensive to even make it pass the total beginner level. The training is intense and the technical classes provided by government agencies and other organizations can cost hundreds of dollars for a weekend or just a week or two. But the dream continues and maybe some day...
Search dogs go through rigorous training and have to be self-sufficient and fearless. They also have to be able to approach a scared victim in a friendly matter; despite their size that is often used to intimidate others (police, security, guard duty, soldiers).
These dogs are athletic and both willing and capable to take on any challenge; overcome any obstacle. They have to be able to climb across even unsteady grounds to located a buried victim or find a missing child! And determination is a key to their success!
They fame, despite years of rescuing and locating victims in deserts, mountains, snow and all kinds of other surroundings, didn't come until the first major disasters in recent years. 911 was probably the one disaster that truly put them on the map!
But they were involved in other disaster areas! Katrina saw them searching through flooded areas and showed the skills of especially those dogs trained for water search. When the East Coast got hit by a series of Tornadoes this year, these dogs were out there searching for survivors!
I loved the training! I had both a air-scenting dog and a tracker. My German Shepherd giant Duke would use a good mix of both, but mainly relied on air-scenting; meaning that he stuck his nose in the air and followed a airborne scent trail. Baby Girl, my Coonhound mix, was always with the nose on the ground. She amazed us with her abilities even at a young age!
The people who become Rescuers are amazing! Often volunteers their lives don't have a schedule and when at work, their day is not limited to 9-5 hours! They go where disaster struck and work until they are no longer needed!
My Attempt on K9 SAR
- My Baby Steps in K9 Search & Rescue
I had this dream about doing K9 Search and Rescue....
I grew up on the edge of a once small town. By backyard was a former apple tree orchard (and plumbs and cherries and pears...), followed by large fields and lots of wooded areas.
Back then Germany had a already dying number of shepherds herding their sheep from one field to another. One of the shepherds in my area lived on the other side of town where we later had a little 'Schrebergarden'.
This shepherd had a herd of roughly a hundred sheep and usually took about two or three mixed breed dogs with him. He wasn't interested in full-blooded dogs, but into breeding the skills and character he needed!
I spend days outside, helping him and walking from one field to another with him. I loved it! It was a special kind of freedom and was involving animals!
While these herds are of great importance in some areas of some countries, in Europe they are slowly dying out. It is a shame that this tradition is about to be lost.
In Anatolia and some other countries these herds are still a lifeline. And especially in Anatolia these dogs 'operate' on their own! They are raised with the flock they are to protect and often left on their own somewhere high up in the mountains.
Anatolian Shepherds are an impressive breed. To see such a large dog that can be both a fierce killer of predators and loving protector of 'his family' is amazing. And their 'duty' is not just limited to sheep. They can help with herding any farm animal and the actually small in statue Cattle Dog is not impressed by the much larger Cattle he is to be controlling! I guess size is only important to those too superficial to appreciate character trades!
Schrebergartedn - My own Paradise
- Schrebergarten Mentality
A Schrebergarten isn't just a small parcel turned into Garden Eden. It is also a symbol for a pride we lost and the values that seem forgotten. Values of 'Home' and 'Family'!
Dalmatians were once used to make way for the wagons from the fire department. Today they aren't really necessary in that function anymore, but they haven't stopped working for the fire department completely.
Dalmatians are now used more as mascots, emotional support for the firefighters and to teach children such things as 'Stop, drop and roll!" Their duties are more supportive and/or educational than what they were before.
Firefighters are a tough breed, but their strength can also be their weakness. A lot of these courageous men and women chose this demanding duty because they care. But the things they see out 'on the job' can be horrible enough to scratch the surface of even the toughest firefighting warrior! In these moment the love and affection of a faithful 'team-mate' may provide a bit of comfort to take the edge of the horror!
Rescue dogs are also used when the nature of a fire or other incident requires the locating of a victim. Especially when it comes to large fires.
But the most important job a firefighting dog can have now is in support of arson investigations! Technology has brought many advances within the world of arson investigations, but dogs are still a great tool! They can sniff out the origins of fires by finding different accellerants used to light the fire.
They help ensure that the guilty parties are brought to justice!
Psychologists & Social Workers
It is 'Pittyful' that we judge dogs by breed and not by character!
The first two Service Dogs I encountered were Pitbulls/Pitbull Mixes. Both were members of our 'Team' of want-to-be K9 Search & Rescuers. One was working at the local hospital and provided endless hours of comfort to the sick and dying; especially to children! The other was being trained to do so and was the love of everybody involved!
I've seen documentaries about horses and even lamas working in hospitals and retirement homes, but dogs (and cats) are the most common. They must endure long cleaning procedures and have the patience of a Saint to be able to provide comfort to those that are affected by diseases that often can be fatal. But their simply show of love and patience, laying by their side and listening to their fears and problems, can make a big difference in comfort and recovery of their 'patience'.
These dogs do a tremendous job of providing psychological and emotional support to those in need!
Guide Dogs of the Blind enable blind people to live almost normal life and have a degree of independents they otherwise can not achieve. Other Service Dogs will provide a strong shoulder to lean on to those unsteady on their feet or may alert their owner of a pending seizure or other medical issue. Dogs were even trained to find health issues such as bugs in houses or cancerous growths in people!
Their training is very expensive and not every one in need has the opportunity to enjoy such valuable support. One would wish that there would be more of these awesome creatures!
A Tool with a Heart
They don't get paid or get any other benefit packages out of it than normal care. But it does not stop them from doing their duty to the best of their abilities!
So far Technology has been unable to completely replace them; and maybe never will! This is not just about the 'work' they can do, but the support they can lend in many ways!
When we learn to appreciate the things they can do for us, maybe we will find ways to prevent so many of these beautiful creatures from being killed with often Hitler-worthy methods called heart-stick and gas!
Maybe we can see them as more than just 'animals', but as a life that is intelligent and knows emotions! Maybe we can find ways to live peacefully together like we used to; too many years ago!