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Steps

  1. Take the time to learn and understand every aspect of the K9 MWD's whole life, from puppy-hood and training, to his career in the military, to the end of his life.
  2. Respect who he is. He's no ordinary dog. Imagine living day to day and sleeping through the night while depending on a dog for your life. Can you appreciate the high level of interspecies trust? Indeed, there can be no stronger bond than the one forged working together through a war, depending on one another for survival.
    • There is nothing that a soldier wouldn't do for his K9 battle buddy.
    • There are currently almost 3, 000 dogs deployed with American armed forces around the world. A soldier and his dog face the enemy together. These canines are not often mentioned but they play an active and important role in our armed forces.
    • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces view military working dogs as soldiers. The dogs and soldiers on the ground are working partners. There is absolutely nothing a dog handler will not do to protect their dogs. They have a very special bond with each other; they travel together, sleep together, live together, and fight together.
    • These dogs serve with valor and have saved countless lives.
    • Their duties may include sentry duty, basic patrol, tracking, tactical explosive detection, security at entry control points, maneuver and mobility support operations, search and rescue, main supply route security, helping to guard and patrol key installations, asset and personnel protection, and scouting to silently locate booby traps and concealed enemies such as snipers.
    • The dog's keen senses of smell and hearing make them far more effective at detecting these dangers than humans.
  3. Familiarize yourself with their military training.
    • Military working dogs strengthen the operational abilities that their human companions must carry out in the field. They are highly capable of working in any type of combat environment.
    • Military Working Dogs begin their training soon after birth, while they’re still with their mother.
    • Military K9s are highly trained soldiers who did not volunteer for their jobs, but they have done their duty with everything they have.
    • These are honorable soldiers, that no matter what the task, the long hours, extreme heat or cold, danger, and combat conditions, could be counted on to do their duty.
    • They have always, without exception, met the demands of their handlers and of their units.
  4. Research Special Ops.
    • The K9 MWDs serve side by side with Special Ops and Navy SEAL Teams. They enthusiastically jump out of planes and parachute down into enemy territory along with their human counterparts.
    • They are an integral part of these highly skilled military teams and perform all the duties that go along with the job.
    • Like their human counterparts, the K9 SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by Sea, Air and Land (thus the acronym).Image titled Understand a Military Working Dog Step 2 The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached.
    • SEAL team dogs are the most elite of the of the elite military working dogs.
    • The Special Ops MWD wears a special state-of-the-art tactical vest outfitted with night-vision goggles (doggles) and durable cameras and microphones that allow the dog to relay audio and visual information back to their handlers.
    • Research Cairo, the Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden. The SEAL DevGru Team (also known as SEAL Team 6) consisted of 81 elite soldiers, including one dog. The name of only one soldier was released by President Obama, K9 MWD Cairo. He is the most elite of the elite; not your standard K9... nor is his gear...
  5. Become familiar with the special needs of these dogs. A retired K9 veteran has special needs that should be accommodated.
    • This elite K9 military veteran has been shot at.
    • He has served courageously to find and alert troops to bombs and explosives.
    • He walks out in front of soldiers to detect, alert, and clear the way when crossing mine fields.
    • These noble dogs place themselves in harms way to protect their fellow human soldiers. They have been shot at, are sometimes badly wounded, and can lose life and limb in service of their country. Some make the ultimate sacrifice along with their heroic handlers.
    • These K9 soldiers help in the disposal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and are victims of enemy ambush maneuvers, land mines, and sniper attacks. The strength and trust of the soldier to K9 partnership is the key factor to the success of their mission.
    • The K9 MWD veteran has been in battle; he has seen his human battle buddies wounded, blown up, and even killed in the line of duty.
  6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
    • Like a lot of soldiers returning from war, the K9 soldier must be retrained and rehabilitated to get them out of the combat mode that they’ve been in most of their life. These dogs have been in the front of military operations. They have experienced highly dangerous combat operations and have served with valor during their deployments.
    • These hero dogs may have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and become extremely anxious at the sound of slamming doors, fireworks, thunder storms, gunshots, and sudden loud noises.Image titled Understand a Military Working Dog Step 3 This is not something you can easily train out of him.
  7. Do everything you can to accommodate the positive aspects of his established routine. Do whatever you can to help your soldier adapt and become comfortable with, and eventually confidant in situations that make him uneasy.
    • While you can lessen his fear and trepidation, this is not something that you can ever completely train out of him.
  8. Understand the need for bonding. These dogs have always enjoyed a special bond with their human. He needs this bond. They travel together, live together, eat together, sleep together, and fight together. You need to forge this strong relationship of trust with your dog.
    • Travel Together. When you go out take your dog with you whenever you can.
    • Live Together. Let your dog live in the house with you and enjoy the full rights and privileges of any member of your family. Don’t keep him off furniture or beds. He has spent his entire career sleeping with his brave human soldiers. Don’t make him stay outside separated from his family. He has spent his life counting on the close interspecies trust necessary for his survival.
    • Eat Together. Let the dog eat when you eat. Your K9 soldier has spent his career in service eating with his human soldier; don’t force a change on him. Your K9 MWD is a special dog with special needs.
  9. Consider adopting. All military working dogs of the U.S. Department of Defense have undergone rigorous training. After the dogs have completed their time in service, around the age of 10, they are rehabilitated and put up for adoption.
    • The United States Congress honors courageous dogs, bestows rank upon them, and promises to provide for a lifetime of medical care. Indeed, the K9 soldier always outranks his handler, ensuring that, without exception, his handler will "obey" the MWD when he alerts to a threat.
    • These elite dogs have earned their rights, respect, honor, an exceptionally honorable retirement, a loving home, and the very best lifelong care.
    • Each year around 300 of these highly skilled combat dogs are retired from military service and are put up for adoption.
    • This can cost as much as $2, 000 to pay for his expenses.
    • Although Congress has committed to providing lifetime medical care for these dogs, in practice, our government has turned a blind eye to these K9 soldiers, as they have with their human battle buddies. You will be responsible for his medical care and, depending on the dog, these expenses can be quite high; more so than your ordinary dog.
    • If you’d like to be considered for the honor of adopting a veteran MWD be prepared to undergo a rigorous screening process; these are no ordinary dogs.
    • Sometimes the dogs are retired with their handlers.
    • If their handler is KIA they may be placed with the soldier’s family.
    • Some go on to careers in civilian police agencies.
    • Still others are adopted out ordinary families.
    • There is usually a 9-15 month wait to adopt one of these heroic canines. If you are selected you should fully commit to meeting your dog’s needs and be acutely aware that his special needs are different from any other dog.
  10. 10

    Find other ways to help. If after learning all about retired military K9s, you feel you are not equipped to provide a perfect home, one worthy of an elite hero with special needs, there are still ways you can help.
    • Consider joining the ranks of Save-A-Vet sponsors.
    • Help out with the planning and staffing of local and national events and fund-raisers.
    • You can help out with financial donations. Financial resources are always needed.
    • Spread the word with brochures and by sharing Save-A-Vet posts & videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media.

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