Monday, July 25, 2011

On Doggies and Doggles

Thought for the day:  There never yet has been a dog who learned to double cross, nor catered to you when you won, then dropped you when you lost.  Mary Hale

Dogs have almost always been a part of my life.

When I was very young, my parents had a shaggy dog named Tippy who was so timid, my mother had to stand over him with a stick while he was eating so other animals couldn't scare him away and eat all his food. Later, we had a teeny tiny dog named Dixie, and for a short while, a beautiful, but demented blond shepherd named Tiger. No matter how long a time we let Tiger outside, he was always extremely diligent about holding it until he came back into the house. Or, upon occasion, he was known to let 'er rip on the steps leading up to the back porch. Oh, and when he wanted in, he would charge up the steps and fling himself full force at the door, knocking himself half silly in the process. "Oh, that's fine," my father would say. "He's just a puppy," he would say. Tiger chewed up shoes belonging to my mother and me, ate a rosebush, thorns and all, and destroyed every piece of clothing hanging on the clothesline one day. Again, my father said, "That's okay. He's just a puppy." But when said pup chewed through the lead-in wire to my father's TV set, Tiger's little doggie bags were packed, and he earned himself a one-way ticket to a friend's place in the country.


None of our dogs was ever particularly talented. None could jump rope or break dance, but our son had a springer spaniel who was quite good at catching a frisbee. Alas, when she died, our son tried to teach our next dog how to perform the same tricks, but all he managed to do was amuse the dog ... and us. He'd throw the frisbee and then go after it on his hands and knees and bring it back in his mouth, while Buck watched, and wagged his tail. My grandmother had a couple boxers who were quite beautiful, but their only talent was generating copious quantities of flatulence. For which my poor grandfather often got blamed.

All our dogs were gentle and loving.

Ours may not have been the most beautiful dogs, or the smartest dogs, but they were all loving dogs. But I'd like to tell you a little bit now about some truly amazing, highly-trained dogs. MWDs, or Military Working Dogs.

Belgian malinois
Cairo, a Belgian malinois, was part of the Navy Seal team that nailed Bin Laden. Until that story broke, I'd never heard of that particular breed before. Turns out, this breed is very similar to the German shepherd, but smaller and more compact. Although the military uses numerous breeds of dog, the shepherd and malinois are the most common, because of their keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence, and ability to adapt to almost any climate.

Even though dogs worked alongside soldiers during the Civil War and WWI, it wasn't until 1942 that they were officially inducted into the U.S. Army. Currently, there are an estimated 2800 active-duty dogs, and about 600 of them are serving  in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This picture, released by K9 Storm, shows what Cairo may have looked like when heading up the stairs in pursuit of Bin Laden.

This pic, also from K9 Storm, shows military dog handler Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara, jumping from an airplane from a record-breaking height of 30,100 feet. Both of them had to wear oxygen to tackle this mind-boggling feat. Military dogs usually jump in tandem with their trainers, but with flotation devices, can make short jumps into the water on their own.

And just what is K9 Storm, you ask? It's a hi-tech mom-and-pop business in Winnipeg, Canada, that designs and manufactures canine body armor. How hi-tech, you ask? A tactical vest is fitted with infrared and night vision enabled cameras capable of delivering feed one thousand yards line-of-sight, and up to 200 yards through multiple concrete walls. Thanks to K9 Storm, the well-dressed MWD of today wears protective eye gear called doggles, body armor, life vests, gas masks, long-range GPS-equipped vests, and hi-tech flak jackets.

Plus, the standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that works well for tandem rappelling and parachuting. As a point of interest, USAF dogs have been airborne for decades, but the earliest flying dogs were probably those accompanying Soviet troops during the '30s.

This picture, from Manual J. Martinez, of the USAF,  shows a jump from a Chinook CH-47, in a training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico. This dog is wearing a special flotation device.

MWDs and their handlers are a tightly-knit unit.

These dogs are trained to detect explosives and hostile, hiding humans. Equipped with their cameras, they enter danger zones first, and allow their handlers to see what's coming before the humans venture forward. Like their human counterparts, dog SEALs, like Cairo, are not only highly trained, but also highly skilled, and highly motivated. And these heroic canines are loved and respected.

Kinda like our dogs.

Only different.

So, how about you? Not that you've ever had a dog who jumped out of airplanes with a parachute, (they can ALL do it WITHOUT one ... but only ONCE) but what nifty tricks could your favorite pooch do?

(And thank you to and for the use of their pictures.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Money may buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail.   Kinky Friedman


  1. Ohhh I really enjoyed this post! :D - Dogs are the best, but we seem to adopt the, shall we say, the not so bright ones. They are well meaning and oh so loving, but we can't quite use the word "smart" to describe them. They are big, furry goofballs and we couldn't love them anymore.

    As for tricks - our dachshund "sits pretty" [meaning the "beg" position, but she isn't begging], pirouettes, speaks and plays dead when we say "bang!" The chessie, um....he sits and shakes paws. His claim to fame is he can eat anything he wants off the counters, tables or out of the pantry. heehee

  2. Sorcia is our first family dog. We've always had cats before this. A big German Shepherd is a big change from the 10 lb black cat we loved and lost -- but we wouldn't want to be without her now. I was astonished by how smart she was, but also but how much she really acts like a toddler at times -- a toddler who will never grow up.

  3. Our Monty (a 6 month old Lab') just eats, sleeps, and farts; in between long walks of course!

  4. Hi, Skippy. "Big, furry goofballs" ... that's a good description for many of the dogs we've owned, too. Please be careful about letting your dachshund sit up. My cousin's dachshund was a famous "beggar", but sitting up caused so much damage to his long backbone, his back legs ended up paralyzed. He was a pretty fat dog, so that may have had something to do with it, too, but just thought I'd mention it. (You might want to ask you vet about it.)

    Hi, Dianne. We're just the opposite. After years of owning dogs, we now have two cats. At this point in our lives, we relish the freedom of going away for the weekend on a last-minute whim if we so desire. Cats can be left alone for a few days with no problem, but a dog is more of an anchor ... it has to be boarded and requires more forethought.

  5. Amazing! Those military dogs are incredible--I'm in awe of them.

    And your dogs sound a lot more like the dogs I always had -- there for companionship and entertainment value only. ;)

  6. Hi, Cro. Your Monty sounds like my kind of dog!

  7. Hi, Linda. Yeah, me, too. If you do a google search on military working dogs, you can find a lot of fantastic pics of them jumping out of planes and choppers.

  8. I was brought up with dogs and loved them so. There was a time that we had more dogs than people in the house. Mom never had the dogs spayed so when they came into season, it was chaos. We always found homes for the pups, but they were hard to give up. I married a non-dog person so our kids grew up with guinea pigs and rabbits. I have to admit, it was easier. Now we have cats (hubby is a cat-man) who are fun also. Our Martian, who just passed away a few months ago, was very dog like as he would fetch, beg for food and was always at your side. Pets make you a kinder person and your life is enhanced.

  9. I'm always slightly leery of people who don't like dogs. I keep my distance.
    The dog break-dancing.... so funny.
    My Cody-dog looks like the frisbee catching dog in the picture. In fact, I try to throw the frisbee low so she won't jump so high as it looks like she could hurt herself. And probably not. She knows.

  10. The only trick my mom and dads collie could do was shake hands, and he never waited to be asked. They had a musical dachshund would tap out shave and a haircut and cleo would bark two bits right on tune.
    Those military dogs are just amazing.

  11. I didn't have a dog growing up. In fact I never had one, till I met current hubs in 1994. He had a dog then, and we have a dog now. Buddy. I adore him. He is the most loving creature I have ever known.

  12. Hi, Starting Over. We only had one dog who had pups, and I know what you mean about how hard it is to give the puppies away. I wanted to keep them ALL! I know what you mean about marrying a non-dog man, too. I married a non-pet man. He'd never had them and couldn't see the point in them. But he learned, he learned. Now, he spoils our cats (our "girls") as much as I do.

    Hi, Manzie. Yeah, it's hard to understand a person who doesn't like dogs. They're more loving, loyal, and protective than many people.

    Hi, Delores. Oh, I'll bet you had fun with that dachshund! Dixie, my teeny half chihuahua, half toy manchester, used to sing with me when I played the harmonica. (In truth, it was probably a howl of misery!)

    Hi, Karen. Sorry you didn't have a dog when you were a kid. They do such a wonderful job of easing childhood angst and loneliness. But I'm glad you have one now.

  13. action dogs eh?
    my bulldog has to have a lie down after walking to the dog bowl!

  14. Dogs are incredible animals!

    I was afraid of them most of my life, thanks to my mother who instilled her fear of them in me. But now, with my children having various sizes and breeds I have learned to love them. And my dearest friend has four dachshunds that she rescued from an animal shelter. With their children grown and gone, she and her husband just love having the little critters around!

    This is a fascinating post, Susan. I learned a lot of things that I didn't know, especially about military dogs. So much versatility represented here. Thanks for taking the time to share the text and pictures.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Memoir, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  15. It's fascinating the history between humans and dogs and how we have grown to read and rely on each other. (I'm thinking about my Jack Russel here... not the other one ;)) I am glad to hear that the military dogs are all kitted out with protective gear and what not. Amazing creatures.

    Wonderful post! And funny how men don't react until it gets to their wiring...

  16. Hi, John. Too funny. I've had dogs like that before, too.

    Hi, Ann. I'm glad you've learned to let those four-legged kids into your life. They add so much.

    HI, Carrie. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes, it's as though our dogs can read our minds, and especially know when we need comforting. Glad you enjoyed the post. Take care.

  17. An extraordinary post about military dogs complete with pictures. The other dogs were interesting too, but seeing the military dogs jumping out of airplanes is incredible! Well worth all your research! Julie

  18. Hi, Julie. Glad you enjoyed it. There are some even better pictures to be found through a google search, but I was concerned about securing proper permission to use them. But boooooy, was I ever tempted!

  19. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Of course, what a great site and informative post. I will bookmark this site. Keep doing your great job and always gain my support. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article.

  20. Appreciation to the good works always! I love pets too much. That's why, I sometimes write some blog posts right there

    1. Hey! There's no such thing as loving a pet "too much!" Why have 'em if you aren't going to spoil 'em?

      Neat webpage. Looks like you can find info about just about anything you might ever want for the special dog(s) in your life there.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.