On bases at home and overseas, K-9 units help to keep civilians and military personnel safe. An ex-Army cop recounts five loyal partners with whom he served.
Dutch shepherd. Sweet dog. He was seven years and twelve handlers into the job, a lifetime in the K-9 patrol business. Me, I was two fresh weeks out of the schoolhouse, the Military Working Dog Handler Course. I chose him from the lot at Fort Bragg Kennels—three unassigned patrol dogs, the other two younger and probably faster and stronger. But I picked Nero. I just liked him. His eyes sparkled.
Patrol dogs are trained to search for people attempting to elude the military police, whom they will then attack. Nero's record showed he'd had two justified bites in his career. That was good. Not all dogs can step up. Some become so accustomed to the practice stuff—the burlap sleeve, the bite suit—that when it comes time to bite flesh, they become confused. But Nero was sharp. Within two months, we passed the Army certification test as a team and were patrolling the streets of Fort Bragg the next night: 163,000 acres, 41,000 active-duty soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilian employees, contractors, and family members. Me and Nero. Lots of long nights, most of them quiet. You get a feel for a dog walking him like that, with a shared purpose.
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WNU Editor: How can you not love a dog that looks like that (above photo).