Old Dawgs and Pups

U.S. Army Spc. Marc Whittaker, a canine handler, restrains his military working dog Anax while U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Erin Sims acts as a decoy at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan. Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Tobey White.

I stumbled across this website while I was looking for something else, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to draw your attention to it.  Old Dawgs and Pups is a group of Vietnam-era military K-9 handlers who have made a commitment to help out current K-9 teams overseas.

They send everyday items the soldiers can’t get while in a war zone, and with the help of the Leatherman Tool Group, they send needed equipment and tools.

According to WTOP in Maryland, they even hosted an event to reunited a soldier who had lost his foot to the working dog he was with, who had also been injured in the same explosion.  Jim Stastny, founder of Old Dawgs and Pups, tells us a little more about the organization’s mission:

“We pair up old dogs like me, with the younger handlers today, and we communicate with them.” The organization sends care packages to the service members. The troops get everything from CDs to coffee and candy. The dogs get chew toys, cooling vests, even sand goggles. (Yes, they make them for dogs, and yes, they come in handy.)

This mission is especially important as the military trains more and more dogs for combat duty.  According to Lt. Col. Richard A. Vargus, chief of the law enforcement branch at the United States Central Command (CENTCOMM), “…the increasing reliance on the abilities of these highly trained dogs also means some dogs will be killed or wounded in the line of duty.  In addition, incidents of canine post-traumatic stress disorder are on the rise.”

According to USA Today, in the past eighteen months, fourteen military working dogs have been killed in action, six have been wounded, and three are missing in action.

Dogs who experience PTSD may run from their handlers or actually bite them.  Dogs and handlers are given a few days to stand down after exposure to an explosion, but no one can tell how the dog will do until it’s actually time to go out into the field again.  The military tries to re-acclimate the dogs, but if they cannot work again, they are often re-trained to be family pets.

There are currently over 700 K-9  teams in Afghanistan and as many as 30 teams remain in Iraq.  Groups like Old Dawgs and Pups are to be applauded for the important support they provide to those defending our country.

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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