Heroes in our society come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are men and women, while some are not human at all. Homes for Heroes would like to recognize the cutest heroes of all, dogs.
In honor of National K9 Veterans Day, we think that our furry heroes deserve glorification for their hard work and commitment to serving the United States, both in the police force and military.
They are born and bred to save lives, and there’s no better sacrifice than that.
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National K9 Veterans Day
March 13th is a day that honors the heroes explicitly with a furry cape that are born and bred to save lives. Whether in the police force or the military, K9s work just as hard as humans to serve and protect their country.
Chasing criminals, sniffing out harmful drugs, tracking those who seem to have vanished without a trace, and more, so we owe them our respect. They have abilities that humans do not, which makes them a significant asset to our country.
Why March 13th?
National K9 Veteran’s Day is celebrated on March 13th because it marks the birthday of the US Army K9 Corps which formed in 1942. The idea for a specific day honoring our furry heroes came from John White, a retired military dog trainer.
History of Military and Police K9s
Man’s best friend was called to serve in the military for the first time during WWI. At that time, dogs were already being used in Europe to perform a variety of tasks such as tracking criminals and as message carriers. That influenced the United State’s first formation of military K9’s in South Africa in 1942.
K9s started working in the police force in the late 1880s. The idea generated in London, and upon its success, spread quickly throughout Europe and then to the United States.
Due to the first police dogs in the United States being used to control situations, they gained the reputation as attack dogs. However, police dogs soon showed American citizens that they were capable of much more than an attack by sniffing out bombs and finding missing children.
How Military and Police Dogs Are Trained
These fearless and loyal K9s aren’t just born into heroism. They must undergo months of training to become a military or police dog officially.
Let’s look at the journey of what it takes to become a furry hero.
How does a dog become a military or police dog?
Departments choose police and military dogs in a couple of different ways. They can purchase a dog, between seven and fourteen months of age, that has gone through basic obedience training. The dogs are otherwise known as “green dogs.” The dog is then assigned to an officer and sent to a four to a twelve-week training program.
The second option is to purchase an entirely trained dog, assign them to an officer, and then send them to a similar training program. The amount of training depends on how much the department desires to invest and what the specific training of the dog is.
Either type of training requires the assigned officer to accompany the dog. This companionship allows the officer and the K9 to train together and form a bond, which is extremely important to success in the field. However, this bond can be difficult to obtain in some cases and one of the hardest parts of training.
After training is over, an individual organization must certify the dog and the officer for whatever type of service they will perform before they see active duty.
What does training entail?
Police and military dogs are either trained for a single or dual purpose. Dogs used for duties such as back up, tracking, and protection train for a sole purpose. Dual purpose dogs undergo training for all of that plus the detection of narcotics or explosives.
However, they are only trained for one or the other because dogs have no way of communicating what exactly it finds.
Famous Military and Police Dogs
- Appollo: This K9 was made famous for his heroic acts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Amongst the rubble, he searched diligently for survivors and victims, ignoring the cuts and burns on his paws. The government bestowed him the Dickin Medal, which is the most honorable award an animal of war can receive.
- Sergeant Stubby: Highly decorated with war medals, this tiny hero was one of the original war dogs of WWI. He’s famous for many things, such as catching a German Spy, sniffing out gas attacks, and finding wounded and deceased soldiers. This K9 went down in history as one of the most heroic animals of his time.
Military and police dogs throughout history have proven to be nothing but an asset to our communities and nation. They have superpowers that make them the best sidekicks for our soldiers and law enforcement in dangerous situations. Whether it’s sniffing out a bomb at the airport or tracking narcotics at a roadblock, they are a part of what keeps us safe.
Dogs are the most loyal and trustworthy companions. Couple that with the right training, and they are guaranteed not to let you down in the line of duty.
Homes for Heroes thanks our furry heroes for their remarkable acts of service on National K9 Veteran’s Day and the other 365 days of the year.