Excited dogs greeting returning soldiers have become an Internet staple, but here’s one with a special twist.
Emma, a pitbull mix who suffers from a congenital anomaly that affects her spine — leaving her front legs only partially functioning and her back legs useless — didn’t let that stop her when her human returned from a six-month deployment.
She pulled and slid herself across the floor to greet him, along with the other two family dogs.
Melissa Swanson uploaded the video of her returning husband and excited dogs on YouTube.
“Emma and her daddy were very close! It broke her heart when he left,” she wrote. “When I come in the door, she normally sits at the end of the hallway and waits for me to pick her up. This time, when her daddy came in, she went to him … Gotta love homecomings!”
The Swansons heard of Emma through SNARR (Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation), and became her foster parents. They’ve since decided to adopt her. They’re still trying to find the perfect cart for Emma — one that will require her to keep using her front legs without putting too much pressure on them.
You can learn more about Emma on her Facebook page.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, animals, congenital, deployment, dog, dogs, emma, family, foster, greeting, hemivertebrae, homecoming, homecomings, pets, returning, reunion, snarr, soldier, soldiers, special needs animal rescue and rehabilitation, spinal, swanson, video, war
Another disabled veteran and service dog have been kicked out of a business establishment — this time in Virginia, where Pat Horan and his dog Wilson were asked to leave a restaurant in Centreville.
As often isn’t the case, Horan’s ejection got some news coverage, thanks to his Facebook friends and the fact that his sister-in-law is a TV reporter.
After a visit with his dentist earlier this week, Pat and his wife, Patty, stepped into a restaurant next door, the Village Café , for lunch.
Upon seeing the dog, the restaurant owner’s wife ordered them to leave the premises.
“I tried to explain to her that this isn’t just a regular pet, this is a service dog,” Patty Horan said. “My husband is disabled. She really didn’t want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant.”
They were offered the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, she added.
The Horan’s posted what happened on Facebook, leading to angry comments from their friends, and the involvement of WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, who’d done a series of stories on her brother-in-law’s recovery. He was shot in the head in Baghdad, resulting in brain injury, seizures and instability.
Fox went to the Village Café and interviewed Mo Aminfar, the owner.
Aminfar said his wife, Mary, didn’t understand that Wilson was a service dog.
“She doesn’t speak very well in English,” he said.
Aminfar said it was a regrettable misunderstanding: “Pat, we apologize and are really sorry for what happened.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aminfar, animals, apology, brain injury, centreville, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, head, iraq, media, news, pat horan, peggy fox, pets, service, shot, vet, veteran, village cafe, virginia, war, wilson, wusa
Sergeant Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog who finally returned from duty in Iraq earlier this year and was reunited with his former handler, died Saturday at the age of 11.
Rex was assigned to Cpl. Megan Leavey in 2006 when, on a patrol in Iraq, the dog alerted his handler of a nearby bomb. Both tried to run away, but it detonated, injuring them both.
Leavey left the Marine Corps in Dec. 2007, but Sergeant Rex continued to serve. She tried to adopt the dog, but was unable to for years because he remained on duty after recovering from his injuries.
This year, when Rex was retired due to facial paralysis, Leavey renewed her efforts, receiving support form U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and an online petition that received more than 20,000 signatures. In March, Leavey received permission to adopt him. They were reunited in April.
Leavey, who lives in New York, announced Rex’s death last week on her Facebook page:
“Unfortunately today at 10:56 a.m. Rex passed away. I was faced with the decision that no pet owner wants to hear, but I know I made the right choice. This is all very sudden and thankfully he did not suffer for long, this all came about late last night.
“I am so grateful for the last eight months I got to spend with my partner and my best friend. Rex got to swim in a pool and play with my other dogs. He got to roam the yard and bark at deer, play with as many toys as he wanted all day everyday, sleep in a cozy bed next to me every night, chase and eventually make friends with my two cats, enjoy and play in his first snowfall … and so much other great stuff that he would have never had the chance to do if he was never retired.
“He knew I was with him the whole time and I laid next to him and held him and spoke to him and he was at peace in the end. He is now my guardian angel … even though he already was. So thank you to everyone who supported me and made it possible for me to spend those precious 8 months with my best friend.
“He was one hell of a dog, one tough ass Marine, and one very special soul. He will no doubt be greatly missed and never forgotten.”
A book about Rex came out this year, entitled “Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog.” It was written by Mike Dowling, another one of Sergeant Rex’s handlers.
Rex searched more than 6,220 vehicles while stationed in Iraq, the Marine Corps says.
The publishers of the new book noted his passing in a Facebook post this week:
“Rest in peace Rex and thank you for your service and sacrifice. Once a Marine, Always a Marine … Semper Fi,” they wrote.
(Photo of Rex and Leavey from tribute posted at Findagrave.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bomb, bombs, bond, book, death, died, dog, handler, handlers, ied, iraq, megan leavey, mike dowling, military, reunion, reunited, sergeant rex, sniffing, war
The first national monument paying tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in two months before going on tour on the way to its final destination – Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor dogs that have served in combat since World War II.
While there are other sculpted memorials to military dogs, this one is the first to be proclaimed a national monument, according to the Associated Press.
It was a reader who suggested a monument, and Burnam saw that as an idea worth pushing.
“I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers,” said Burnam, who received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In 2004, Burnam and two other veterans formed the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. In 2007, Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.
Burnam designed the monument, which depicts a handler and four dogs — a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois.
The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. The sculptor, Paula Slater, says she has spent thousands of hours on the project.
Primary funding for the project is being supplied by Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky treat sold by Petco. Maddie’s Fund, a pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.
A floral replica of the sculpture, in the form of a float, will be part of the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, and among those riding on it will be Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch.
The monument will then go on temporary display next to the float at Victory Park. After that, it will hit the road, headed for Lackland Air Force Base, where most of the nation’s military dogs are trained.
(Photos: At top, a model of the U.S. Working Dogs Teams National Monument, courtesy of John Burnam Monument Foundation; above left, handler John Burnam and sculptor Paula Slater stand with the military dog handler that will be part of the monument, courtesy of Natural Balance)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, doberman, dogs, german shepherd, handlers, john burnam, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois. paula slater, lackland, lackland air force base, military, monument, national, national monument, natural balance, pets, sculpture, statue, teams, tribute, war
They don’t look like anything you’d want to snuggle with after a hard day on the battlefield, but here are the latest versions of robotic dogs being developed for the U.S. military.
The Boston Dynamics AlphaDog robots are intended to haul gear for soldiers traveling on foot over rugged terrains.
They can interpret and respond to both verbal and visual commands, follow a leader, get back on all four legs after a fall, and walk up to 3 miles per hour over rocky terrain, 5 miles per hour on a flat surface. Eventually, developers say, their top speed will be around 7 miles per hour.
They are still a little loud to sneak up on an ememy, but they’re 10 times quieter than the previous versions, NBC reports.
The robotic dogs are being developed by Boston Dynamics for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
They both share the same name — Legged Squad Support System, or LS3 for short.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alpha dog, alphadog, animals, boston dynamics, canine, commands, darpa, defenseadvanced research projects agency, dogs, gear, legged squad support system, ls3, military, pack, pack animals, pets, robotic dogs, robotics, robots, transporting, war
“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan went to Afghanistan to report on brothers serving together in the U.S. Marines.
But apparently she fell in love while on assignment.
She completed her report, and it aired last night, with no mention of the behind the scenes romance — which saw Logan wrap a civilian named Bill into her arms and smuggle him past authorities. For that, you have to go to the 60 Minutes Overtime website.
There you will learn that Bill was a puppy
While working in the field, Logan and her producer Tom Anderson met a group of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, who had taken in an orphaned puppy, near death when they found him.
“You know, everyone has this image of Marines as jarheads and door-kickers” said Logan. “But when we got to this patrol base, we saw these guys sitting around caring for Bill. I just watched for a little while, and it was very clear from the first moment that all these Marines loved this little dog. They were mad about him.”
It wasn’t long before Logan fell for Bill, too, and agreed to sneak him to an animal shelter in Kabul, where he could stay until one of the soldiers finalized his plan to take him back to the U.S.
With help from a bureau chief there, who harbored the pup for a while, the dog eventually made it to the shelter, where the love story came to a sad ending. Bill, it turned out, had parvo, and died.
Logan, fighting back tears, explains what happened next in the video above. The soldier decided to use the funds he’d raised to get Bill home to rescue another dog from the shelter, in Bill’s honor, and bring him back to the U.S.
Watch it until the end and you’ll see that’s exactly what happened.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 60 minutes, 60 minutes overtime, afghanistan, animals, assignment, bill, brothers, cbs, correspondent, dog, kabul, lara logan, love, marines, pets, puppy, rescue, serving, shelter, smuggled, soldiers, together, video, war
Former Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and retired military service dog Rex were reunited Tuesday in New York, bringing a successful end to Leavey’s long campaign to adopt her former partner.
“I’m so happy,” Leavey, 28, told the Journal News from her Valley Cottage home Wednesday afternoon. “I was nervous at first that maybe he wouldn’t recognize me, but it was like no time has passed.”
Leavey and the German shepherd served two tours of duty together in Iraq. Both were injured when an explosive device was detonated near them outside of Ramadi, Iraq, in September 2006
Leavey was discharged from the Marines in December 2007, and she tried to adopt her former partner then. But military officials decided Rex could still make a valuable contribution and didn’t discharge him.
Earlier this year, however, Rex, then the oldest working dog at Camp Pendleton, was diagnosed with facial palsy, a nerve paralysis that left him unable to serve.
Leavey renewed her push to adopt the 10-year-old dog, and got help from Sen. Charles Schumer’s office.
Schumer wrote letters to military officials and more than 20,000 people signed a petition urging military officials to allow the adoption.
Officials with the Air Force signed off on the adoption last month.
Wednesday, Leavey and Rex were settling in after flying from California to JFK. By then, she’d introduced him to his new family — a 7-year-old shiba inu named Rocky and a 4-year-old chocolate Labrador named Patriot, and who Leavey handles for a private company.
“It’s like he knows he’s retired. He’s happy,” Leavey said. “We played in the yard the whole morning.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air force, charles schumer, dog, dogs, german shepherd, injured, iraq, K-9, k9, marines, megan leavey, military, military dogs, partners, petition, retired, reunion, reunited, rex, senator, sergeant rex, sgt. rex, united, video, war
Sgt. Rex will finally be reunited in retirement with his ex-Marine handler, Cpl. Megan Leavy, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said.
The Associated Press reports that the Air Force has agreed to release the German shepherd into the care of Leavey, who lives in Rockland County, north of New York City,
Leavey was injured with Rex in 2006 while trying to disarm an explosive in Iraq.
Leavey came home with a Purple Heart, but Sgt. Rex was evaluated and found to be capable of continuing his service.
Leavey had tried to adopt the dog then, but her request was rejected by the Air Force.
At age 10, Sgt. Rex started developing other problems and was allowed to retire. Leavey again tried to adopt him, but Schumer said bureaucracy still stood in the way.
“We salute the Air Force and the Marines for doing the right thing and allowing Rex to be with Corporal Leavey,” Schumer said Monday night. “One canine, one human, both heroes. They should be united shortly, and we’re glad it’s happening … It’s only appropriate and right that the two of them enjoy their retirement from the service together.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopting, air force, animals, bureaucracy, charles schumer, dog, dogs, explosive, german shepherd, injured, iraq, K-9, k9, marine, marines, megan leavey, new york, pets, purple heart, reunion, reunited, reuniting, senator, sergeant rex, sgt. rex, war
Just like their human counterparts, dogs in the military can suffer the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder — and they’re doing so at a rate nearly as high as humans.
By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times:
“ … (T)he concept of canine PTSD is only about 18 months old, and still being debated. But it has gained vogue among military veterinarians, who have been seeing patterns of troubling behavior among dogs exposed to explosions, gunfire and other combat-related violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Of the dogs who show symptoms, about half are likely to be prematurely retired from service, said Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.
The Times article, accompanied by the beautiful photograph above, reported that dogs show the symptoms in different ways, much like humans with the disorder. They may become hyper-vigilant, undergo temperament changes, turn aggressive with their handlers, or start becoming timid and clingy, avoiding areas that they had once been comfortable in.
Most crucial of all — at least as the military sees it — they can also stop doing the tasks they’re being relied on to perform.
“If the dog is trained to find improvised explosives and it looks like it’s working, but isn’t, it’s not just the dog that’s at risk,” Dr. Burghardt said. “This is a human health issue as well.”
The number of dogs on active duty has risen from 1,800 in 2001 to about 2,700. The training school headquartered at Lackland prepares about 500 dogs a year for deployment.
Combining all branches of the armed services, more than 50 military dogs have been killed since 2005, the article reported.
Dr. Burghardt uses videos to train veterinarians to spot canine PTSD, such as this one of a dog that, while he has no problem inspecting a car, refused to go inside a bus or a building.
Treatment of dogs suspected of having the disorder can range from taking them off patrol and allowing them to just be dogs for a few days to ”desensitization counterconditioning,” which involves exposing a dog, in increments, to sights or sounds he’s reacting nervously to and rewarding him when he doesn’t react.
Dogs that do not recover quickly are returned to their home bases, and those that continue to show symptoms after three months are usually retired or transferred to different duties, Dr. Burghardt said.
(Photo: Bryce Harper for the New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, army, article, canine ptsd, care, combat, dogs, forces, humans, iraq, lackland air force base, military dogs, new york times, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service, soldiers, symptoms, treatment, veterinarians, walter f. burghardt, war
He has watched soldiers stop to pet a stray and walk away as if, at least for the moment, they’d found some peace amid war.
“It was an incredible transformation,” Rice said of one particular instance in Iraq, where he watched as a weary, rifle-toting soldier spent a few minutes with a dog that had wandered onto a base in Iraq. “Those few minutes looked as if they turned a bad day into one of his best. It almost brought tears to my eyes.”
Rice, a Scottsdale, Arizona veterinarian and member of the Army Reserve who’s now stationed in Kosovo, is working to let more soldiers (and more dogs) experience the therapeutic effects one species can provide each other.
He has taken in four strays so far, according to a story in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, and makes them available for soldiers to check out at Camp Bondsteel, home to a multinational UN peacekeeping force charged with monitoring tensions between Albanians and Serbs:
A soldier may check out a dog, just as he might check out a book in a library, and for a few hours take a break from a grinding overseas assignment…
“It gives them a connection to home, reminding them of the dogs they left behind,” said Rice. “It lets them think of things that have nothing to do with war…
“It’s a transformation you have to see to believe … A few minutes with a dog brings back some balance in your life. It relieves the pressure and re-energizes you.”
Rice’s official duty is to tend to bomb-sniffing dogs. But he’s the unofficial mayor of “Dog Town,” which now has a population of four stray mutts, all of whom wandered onto the base from the nearby town of Ferizaj.
Soldiers must go through a briefing to get into the program. Once completed, they can sign out a dog for up to 12 hours. Rice said about 50 soldiers have taken part.
The dogs are allowed almost anywhere on the base — except for mess halls.
“We’ve had dogs sit in with us on staff meetings,” said Major John Brunett of Santa Fe, who frequently checks out dogs. “Everyone likes an opportunity to pet or have them on their laps. People respond well to the dogs, and of course, when they’re out, they get lots of attention.”
Dog Town was started by previous veterinarians stationed at Camp Bondsteel who were disheartened seeing the conditions that dogs in the village lived in.
Its current occupants now include Hannah, a terrier mix; Trcec (pronounced “tur-kek,” a 50-plus pound shepherd mix; Kacanik (“catch-a-nik”) a 2-year-old terrier mix, and Gjakova (“ya-ko-va”), a 7-month-old Sar Mountain dog mix.
(Photo: David Wallace / Arizona Republic)