Lucca, October 2007

It’s 105 degrees outside, and it’s just the cusp of summer. Lucca K458, a four year old female Belgian Malinois, works silently, walking point on a combat patrol; her nose lifted high and then brought low, reading the still air as easily as her handler would read a newspaper. Suddenly, she stops. Finding the smell she seeks, this gifted Explosives Dog lies down and stares at the scent, communicating the find to her Marine handler, SSgt Chris Willingham. Lucca has just alerted on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), planted roadside with the intent to kill the Soldiers behind her. But, that won’t happen today. One more success for this expertly trained Marine Dog, one less success for the enemy.

SSgt Willingham knows the danger that “choke points” bring. When a convoy approaches a point where it must slow down or stop, a “choke point”, such as a canal crossing, intersection or bend in the road, gives more time to watching insurgents to detonate their weapons. Lucca’s mission is to alert on the explosives beforehand, have them rendered harmless and move out.

During one house to house search, Lucca and Willingham were looking through a TV repair shop, filled with all the typical electrical parts and wiring that one would anticipate finding there. All seemed normal, except the man’s composure. In a back room, in a box tucked away under a table, Lucca suddenly alerted, telling Willingham that explosives were present. The owner’s hands tested positive for residual explosive; one more bomb maker out of business.

Lucca’s list of accomplishments is lengthy and includes finding 2 IEDs, 1 Car Bomb, caches of homemade explosives, numerous concealed AK-47s with Mags, Dsh-Ks (vehicle mounted 50 caliber Soviet guns), hidden along the Tigris River and lethal Dsh-K rounds buried in an above ground tomb in a cemetery; her finds leading to arrests of many insurgents.

This team has been part of numerous combat patrols, including Air Assaults. In Willingham’s words, “We conducted an Air Assault one night, and when we hit the house we did not find the High Value Target we were looking for. As others were interviewing the witnesses, I took a 4 man team to conduct open area searches around the house. Lucca started to show a change, but it was not her normal change of behavior. I told the team there was something alive out there in the darkness. About 20 yards later, she began to growl, so I alerted the team and they conducted a sweep of the area…………..about 30 yards away in a canal was the insurgent we were looking for. She is not trained for patrol work, but that’s just the dog’s natural ability.”

Lucca is truly a heroine to those Soldiers who safely follow in her footsteps.

Chris Calloway & Rex with soldiers

Rex: Nomination for “Hero Dog in the Service”

Dear GSDCA Board:

It is my great honor and joy to be able to nominate RexD012 for the honor of Hero Dog in the Service category. Rex along with his human partner, U.S. Navy Petty Officer MA1 Christopher Calloway, impressed me from the first moment I saw them. They are both dedicated professionals and are a team in the truest and most fundamental sense of the word.

Chris Calloway & Rex in the snow

Chris Calloway & Rex in the snow

MA1 Calloway and Rex attended the 2005 War Dog Memorial Re-dedication in June of 2005 at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where I first met them. Calloway and Rex wanted to honor all dog teams past and present and the salute Calloway made at the War Dog Memorial made the newspapers around the world as part of the AP news network and brought attention to the legacy of the Military Working Dog with his quote, “I have the best job in the world.”

Later that same year, in October 2005, I spent a day watching the work done by Rex and other Navy K9s at King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base (NSB) in south coastal Georgia, where they are responsible for security patrols and narcotic detection on the nuclear submarine base. Rex is now a seven-year-old GSD imported from Germany. As a teenager, Rex completed basics at Lackland AFB in Narcotics Detection and Patrol and was sent to NSB Kingsbay, Georgia in 1999 where he started work and continues his training daily. Rex is considered by the Kennel Master, MA1 Strobeck, as one of the most superlative dogs he’s seen in his nearly 20 years of service. Rex has been known to take test shots at the Kennel Master during feeding, but it hasn’t diminished Strobeck’s praise for this dog. “He will protect Calloway or whoever is his handler to the end. That to me is personal. He is one of the most devoted MWD’s that I have had contact with.”

Chris Calloway & Rex with children

Chris Calloway & Rex with children

Rex’s days at King’s Bay are filled with sweeps of cars entering the base, patrolling the base as an MP and other normal duties. Although, normal being a relative term, if you consider a GSD being lowered down a hatch into a docked nuclear submarine for random checks as a “routine” duty. Having recently been on one of the nuclear subs, I can attest to how far straight down that hatch really is and how incredibly small and confining the spaces in a submarine are. Calloway reports that Rex negotiates these circuitous pathways with the unruffled ease of a seasoned submariner.

Rex and Calloway were deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom in December 2005. Arriving east of Jalalabad in the rugged mountains near the Afghani-Pakistani border (where the average altitude is 4500 meters) during the fury of an Afghani winter had its own challenges. For this pair more accustomed to sultry southern climes, the initial mission included the freezing of MA1 Calloway’s pistol in the firing position. Some of the information about their work remains classified, however, we do know that this team was attached to the DEA and British Special Forces (SAS/SBS Forces) to conduct drug interdiction throughout eastern Afghanistan and worked in the Aachien District, the Nangarhar Province, Hajj Juni Kahn Village and innumerable caves and crevices in eastern Afghanistan, searching for and destroying heroin, opium and weapons caches.

To access the caves and steep mountainsides, they were sometimes required to jump out of helicopters onto very rugged terrain, as there was nowhere to land the helo. Laughingly, Calloway says that this land is so desolate and harsh, that it should only be used by mountain goats. Coming from the humid heat of the Georgia coast, Rex took the snowy mountain crags like a duck to water, impressing all of his DEA and British Special Ops team. I’ll include some first hand accounts from MA1 Calloway’s emails to give you a flavor of what was going on for this dynamic duo in their efforts to stem the tide of drugs headed westward to America.

“How’s it going? I just wanted to check in with you. Today was my first day out. I really can’t get into details but I’m sooo exhausted. I was with the British Special Forces and “DEA”. We went to places — only goats and donkeys can maneuver out there. The weather was soooooo bad that my 9MM froze in the fire position and I couldn’t even chamber a round if I needed to. My feet are slightly frost bitten. I had so much gear and at times I was struggling to make it up those hills. The big story here is my dog Rex. He would notice every time I wasn’t with him and he would come back to see I was okay. I took a bad fall on the ice. I thought I broke my arm and wrist, but I’m OK. Rex was flawless for 9 hours straight in 20-degree temperature. He did not falter at all. He was sooooo strong out there, especially considering the elements. The helicopter pilots were very impressed. There were some places they could not land squarely so we all to jump at least 5-8 feet to the ground. Rex took the snow as if he was from Alaska. I was very impressed and very proud of him. Those mountains we were in were something out of a fairy tale, I couldn’t believe it. I took some pictures with a disposable camera; hopefully the pics will come out okay. The British special forces and the Afghan special forces were so professional…Have a great day. Chris.”

The exact amount of drugs that RexD012 and Calloway have taken out of the pipeline is currently classified information as they have not yet returned from Afghanistan. Their return date is slated for mid-June. However, what we do know is that during their six month tour, an excess of 10 tons of opium and heroin base have been found and destroyed due to Rex and MA1 Calloway’s work.

“Heeeey, how’s everything going? I’m sending some photos of our first mission. Take a good look at all of that opium. That was some serious drugs and the labs that they make it from. We blew the labs and set fire to the opium. Some of the campsites were vacant but you could tell the opium makers had recently been there. They heard the “helos” coming in and they took off. I took a pic of my weapon because I couldn’t believe it froze like that, but at least it was in the firing position. The black tar heroin was something else, that’s how they package everything. I have more pics, so stand by. Take care. Chris”

Not only were Rex and Calloway assisting the DEA and British Special Ops, they also helped check out the Embassies. They taught Afghani handlers how dog handling should be done, cementing relationships with our allies, initiated training for other groups, providing security sweeps for visiting dignitaries and serving as Goodwill Ambassadors with the Afghani kids. In a nutshell, they did it all.

“Hello, how’s everything going? I just returned from my trip and I had a great time. I was camped out at this Afghani camp sharing some info on K-9’s. The British bought the Afghanis two dogs at $10,000: Sniper and Nero. The dogs knew odor, but it was the handlers that were having the hard time and needed our help. I had a translator and he was great. He translated everything I said and we were able to really get some good techniques shared. I spent 3 days with them and I showed them some great training tips and I also had Rex show them how it should be done. : ) I will check on them again in 3 weeks….Thanks for the care packages. Chris”

and a few days later…

“Good morning, how’s everything going? How was the weekend? As for Rex and me we are doing very well. Today I was spent some time with DYNCORP to help out with their K-9 teams they are trying to put together to run on the borders. One drug and one explosive. They have two Afghanistan handlers and two German shepherds to work with. The handlers came over today and I went over a few things and did “Show and Tell” with Rex. The K-9’s come from Uzbekistan somewhere near the border of Russia and the handlers speak Russian and the commands are in Russian so I’m looking forward to this. I will send some pics when I get the chance. Here is a pic of Sgt Nunez with President Bush. He has another one with Laura Bush. We made sure the President and Mrs. Bush were safe when they came to visit us recently. Chris.”

Rex and MA1 Calloway are consummate professionals, true American heroes, and battle tested. Even when things go other than expected, they step up to the plate, do their job and take on additional duties.

“Hello, how’s your day going? As for me I’m sooo tired. Rex and I went on another mission today somewhere out there. I never know exactly where we are but the helicopter we were riding in ”CRASHED” today after we got drop off at the target site. Everyone was okay, a lot of my gear is torn up from the crash but fortunately, Rex and I had just gotten off. We had a good day as far as locating drugs and providing security at the crash site. Here are a few pics from today’s mission. I’m heading to bed now, as I’ve been up for 17 hours now.”

As you can probably discern, the area that Rex and Calloway are serving in is well known for its system of caves and hiding places and is suspected of providing cover for some of the world’s most feared and well-known terrorists. While this type of information is totally classified, I am certain, without a doubt, that with Chris and Rex on the prowl, eastern Afghanistan is not the easy haven that it might once have been for terrorist activity. If you put two and two together, I’m sure you can come up with the answer.

MA1 Calloway and MWD Rex have been working together for three years and have a seamless working relationship. Calloway will retire in a couple of years and hopes to take Rex into retirement with him. Because of their exemplary work locating and destroying so many drugs I would like to add GSDC of America’s Hero Dog Award to a list of honors they have received. However, in addition to that you have a dog and handler who are working in an unbelievably rugged environment and remaining flawless, proving to be the truly professional dog team while dealing with a multitude of nationalities among our allies and providing security for the President during his visit to this hostile area. For everything they are, Rex and Chris are true, true heroes.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Dixie Whitman
GSDC of America member since 1991

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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Kimba, a Belgian malinois military working dog assigned to the 673d Air Base Wing Security Forces Squadron, runs toward an aggressor during a training session on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Aug. 26, 2013. Security Forces Airmen continually train with their K9 counterparts to keep their teams flexible to respond to law enforcement emergencies, and for overseas deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

malinois-biting-training-mit

Max and More

You’ve seen the movie, Max, and are awed at the capabilities of military working dogs and maybe Belgian malinois, in particular. You’re thinking about adopting a military working dog or adding a malinois to your family because they seem like such amazing dogs. Here are some things that you should know before you start your journey looking for a new family member.

Malinois training with handlerMalinois are often called maligators, for a reason, by those who know and love them. This is a brilliant breed for working and especially for hard hitting, high energy work, like military or police work. They are not, in general, a good companion breed and certainly not a dog that you can ignore and stick out in the back yard. Some people says malinois is French for “Don’t Get One”, at least if you are not an experienced owner and don’t plan to spend hours daily working with your dog.

These dogs require a serious job and if they don’t have a job, they will find one. Their job description may include things such as: shred the couch, chew the door off the hinges, rip up the carpet – which is probably more in line with a demolition crew than the pet you thought you were bringing home.

This is not to say these dogs aren’t brilliant, they are. But, they are high drive, active and require a dedicated, experienced owner who is committed to their education, which means that being away significant amounts of the day, doesn’t work well for this breed. If you find a breeder who is content with selling a dog to a novice without asking tons of questions, s/he’s not the breeder for you. Ethical breeders will want to be sure their high drive dogs go to a working home that is a perfect match.

Those who love malinois are concerned that people will ignore the realities of malinois ownership and buy one anyway. If you are still thinking about adding this breed to your home, please do enough research to answer your questions. Here is a good link.

http://www.malinoisclub.com/abmc/about-the-malinois/is-the-malinois-right-for-you

Many malinois end up in rescue because they are not what the novice owner thought they were getting. If you’re interested in a rescue malinois, check out this link:

http://www.malinoisrescue.org/

And, if you’re interested in adopting a retired military working dog, please go directly to the source at Lackland AFB. The dog disposition unit is at Lackland and they coordinate all of the adoptions- so please don’t call individual kennels and interrupt their important training. There is no fee for adopting a retired dog, but you are responsible for transport and healthcare. This is the easiest way to get your name on a list. You can begin the adoption process by completing and submitting the required paperwork application at this link:

http://www.37trw.af.mil/units/37traininggroup/341sttrainingsquadron/index.asp

Thanks to the DoD for the images.

February 2015 National Geographic cover "Healing Our Soldiers"

Credit: National Geographic

For more information on this exceptional piece, please follow this link:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/healing-soldiers

The following is an excerpt from the February issue of National Geographic.  The full feature is available at nationalgeographic.com.

“THE INVISIBLE WAR ON THE BRAIN by Caroline Alexander

Brain trauma from blast force is the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, afflicting hundreds of thousands of U.S. combat personnel. Although unseen, the damage strikes deeply into a soldier’s mind and psyche.

INSIDE THE PROTECTIVE BUNKER I waited with the explosives team, fingers wedged firmly in my ears. Outside, shot number 52, trailing a 20-foot length of yellow-and-green-striped detonating cord, was securely taped to the wall of a one-room plywood building with a steel fire door. There was a countdown from five, a low “pow,” and a dull thump in the center of my chest. The thump is the hallmark of blast. “You feel the thump,” one team member told me. “I’ve been in blast events where we’re actually hundreds or even thousands of feet away, and I still feel that thump.”

The mystery of what that thump does had brought me to a World War II bombing range some 40 miles southeast of Denver. Back then it was used to test half-ton ordnance; now it serves to study controlled explosives used by soldiers to blast holes through walls and doors in combat areas—standard practice in modern warfare. The eventual objective of these tests is to discover what that blast thump does to the human brain.”

All images are from the February issue of National Geographic magazine. MWDTSA watermark is applied to prevent unauthorized photo redistribution.

Picture of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Tam with wife and baby

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Tam (Ret.)
Iraq 2004-05, 2007-08.
© Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

“Detonation happened, and I was right there in the blast seat. I got blown up. And all this medical study—nobody ever thought that they [blast events] were very harmful, and so we didn’t log them, which we should because all blast forces are cumulative to the body. On a grade number for me, it would probably be 300-plus explosions … I’m not going to not play with my children. I’m not going to let my injuries stop them from having a good life.”

Marine Cpl. Chris McNair sitting on his parents' porch, in full uniform, wearing a mask he made in therapy.

Marine Cpl. Chris McNair (Ret.)
Afghanistan 2011-12
© Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

Impeccable in his Marine uniform and outwardly composed, McNair sits on the porch of his parents’ home in Virginia, anonymous behind a mask he made in an art therapy session.

“I was just going through pictures, and I saw the mask of Hannibal Lecter, and I thought, ‘That’s who I am’ … He’s probably dangerous, and that’s who I felt I was. I had this muzzle on with all these wounds, and I couldn’t tell anyone about them. I couldn’t express my feelings.”

Army Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman wearing his half patriotic, half death head mask.

Army Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman
Iraq 2006-08
© Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

Wearing his mask—half patriotic, half death’s-head—Hopman confronts the battery of medications he takes daily for blast-force injuries he sustained while treating soldiers as a flight medic.

“I know my name, but I don’t know the man who used to back up that name … I never thought I would have to set a reminder to take a shower, you know. I’m 39 years old. I’ve got to set a reminder to take medicine, set a reminder to do anything… My daughter, she’s only four, so this is the only dad she’s ever known, whereas my son knew me before.”

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tiffany H. wearing her blind eye and sealed lips mask.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tiffany H.
Iraq 2007-08, Afghanistan 2010-11
© Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

Tiffany H., as she prefers to be known, was “blown up” while helping women in a remote Afghan village earn additional income for their families. Memory loss, balance difficulties, and anxiety are among her many symptoms. The blinded eye and sealed lips on her mask.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert “Bo” Wester, wearing his mask made in therapy.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert “Bo” Wester (Ret.)
Iraq 2007, 2008-09, Afghanistan 2010
© Lynn Johnson/National Geographic

Suiting up before attempting ordnance disposal

“is the last line. There’s no one else to call … It’s the person and the IED … and if a mistake is made at that point, then death is almost certain. They call it the long walk because once you get that bomb suit on, number one, everything is harder when you’re wearing that 100 pounds … Two, the stress of knowing what you’re about to do. And three, it’s quiet, and it seems like it takes an hour to walk.”

Jan Slotar holding up a picture frame so you can picture yourself as a volunteer!

New Year~~New You

Volunteers are how we roll. Would you like to get involved but don’t know how? Let us show you how easy it can be to become part of our MWDTSA Team and why it may be just the thing for you.

As an all volunteer organization, volunteers are the lifeblood of everything we do. That means that each individual who volunteers with MWDTSA contributes to the support we provide to our military working dog teams. Each year, we successfully ship care packages, complete base visits and recognition events, educate the general public and advocate on behalf of retired dogs.

The help you supply is vital. It is real, tangible, and relied upon to help us reach and exceed our goals. Join our dynamic national network of volunteers who donate their time and talent to MWDTSA. Most of our volunteer efforts are virtual, which means you can join us from anywhere in the country and make a real contribution toward furthering our goals. We couldn’t do what we do without dedicated, hard-working, enthusiastic volunteers like you. But, what’s in it for you?

It’s rewarding. Find Meaning and Purpose at Any Age: Sharing what you’ve learned with others can be a rewarding opportunity to give back. It’s a way to show the troops that you support them.

Courtney holding and MWDTSA badgeIt’s good for your health: mental and physical. Experience Improved Health and Well-being: Many people who volunteer say that helping others gives them a good feeling inside. There seems to be an actual physical sensation that occurs when people help others that makes them experience greater energy and strength, less depression and increased feelings of self-worth.

It’s fun and makes you reinvent yourself. Make New Friends and Improve Your Mind: you’ll be meeting and working with people from across the country and varied backgrounds. If you had told me before I started that I’d have learned how to write press releases, communicated with some of the individuals that I have at various levels of the government and made as many friends from all across the military, I would not have believed you. It’s been a blast. Step into our world.

Current Volunteer Needs

Allison and a poinsettia plantWe have a unique and varied need of volunteer work, but we are always looking for motivated volunteers filled with energy and ideas. We could use some help in the following areas:

  • Solicitation of donations for care packages
  • Dog Tagz Online Store Developer/Manager
  • Photography/Videography
  • Writer/Editor—Stories and Articles for newsletter and online
  • Social Media Mogul: Facebook and Twitter
  • In Kind Donation Solicitations
  • Artwork/Graphic Design/T Shirt design and sales
  • Fund Raising
  • Volunteer Coordination and Management
  • Grant writing and much, much more.

We are a small, but mighty non-profit so every ounce of energy is important; know that you can make a powerful difference. When it comes to volunteering, passion and positivity are the only requirements.

Stop by our Volunteer Central Page for more information or to send in a volunteer application: https://www.mwdtsa.org/volunteer.html

Thanks and we look forward to welcoming you to the MWDTSA Volunteer Family.

An assortment of red and black KONG toys
Hatos balancing a KONG on his head

Hatos’ balancing act!

MWDTSA created our KONGs for K9s event about 6 or 7 years ago as a way to reach supporters across the country and to round up quality KONG products for Military Working Dogs.

The program is simple, donors make a donation of a requested KONG product at one of our partner stores. At the end of the event, the KONGs will be gathered, counted and matched by another KONG Classic by the KONG company,

This event has been a win-win-win for various reasons. It allows MWDTSA to get quality toys donated without having to spend our precious funding. It allows small pet business partners a way to bring to their customers a method to support military working dogs in a very tangible way.

These stores are accepting donations through the end of October.

Leash On Life

Ms. Julie Phye
432 Highway 1 W
Iowa City, Iowa 52246
leashonlife.net
319-354-4334

Lucky Duck Pet Stuff

Ms. Carla Wynn
3723 E. Chesapeake Beach Road (Rt. 260)
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland 20723
http://luckyduckpetstuff.com
410-257-5080

Ma and Paw’s Bakery

Ms. Diane Sanders
1227 East 3300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
http://www.maandpawsbakeryinc.com
801-487-3838

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
http://www.topdogs.net
2615 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30114
770-218-0602

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
900 Mansell Road Suite 13
Roswell, GA 30076
770-641-8620

Personal Beast

Ms. Jett Wyatt
8119 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97215
http://personalbeast.biz/
503- 445-9449

Veterans United Craft Brewery

8999 Western Way #104
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
sgamble@vubrew.com
www.vubrew.com

The four California stores will be accepting donations through the end of November.

Pet Suites

19 Journey
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

949- 425-0700

Three locations of The Animal Keeper:

The Animal Keeper

155 Saxony Road
Encinitas, CA

Tel: (760) 753-9366

3532 College Blvd
Oceanside, CA 92056
Tel: 760- 941-3221

12280 Oak Knoll Road
Poway, CA 92064
Tel: (858) 748-9676

Parade magazine cover "A Marine's Best Friend" featuring MWD Lucca
NY Time's bestselling author Maria Goodavage's book cover to "TOP DOG" featuring Marine WMD Lucca.

NY Time’s bestselling author Maria Goodavage’s book cover to TOP DOG featuring Marine MWD Lucca.

Thank you to Parade magazine for sharing Lucca’s story with the world tomorrow.  Lucca K458 was a military working dog to whom we were introduced many, many years ago, while she and Chris were working together. MWDTSA is proud and honored to have supported them on multiple deployments.  We shared their story with the world via our MWDTSA Hero Dog nominations.

This team is worthy of the praise they received.  Along with Chris, we also have great respect and admiration for Juan who also played a huge role in Ms. Lucca’s life.

Could not be any prouder and I know our mutual friend, Terry, who was a Vietnam era handler and has now passed on, is smiling down today.  He was so proud of Chris.

A new book will be released soon, Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca.  It will be a both worth reading.  We’ll be writing a review in our Kennel Talk soon.

Vietnam Veteran and MWD handler Johnny Mayo with a military working dog

Back in the late 1990’s I became introduced to Vietnam dog handlers. As new memorials were unveiled in 2000 to honor their dogs – one at Riverside, California and one at Fort Benning, Ga. – I witnessed first hand how the dog handlers from Vietnam honored their partners. It is as if the last 15 years they have tried very hard to remember what they tried so hard to forget the previous 30 years.

Their dogs were abandoned by their government, but never by the men who worked with them. People like, Johnny Mayo, photographed above, have spent hundreds of hours working to ensure that Military Working Dogs are recognized and given their appropriate place in our history and our hearts. Our June issue of Kennel Talk newsletter will feature links to the National Geographic video interview with Johnny.

It’s also true of our own organization, MWDTSA. It was co-founded by one Vietnam era Lt.Col and currently has two Vietnam dog handler veterans on our Board of Directors. What we have as our core driving point is that never again will one generation of dog handlers be abandoned by another.

Having met hundreds of dogs and dog handlers over the course of my now 15 years associated with MWDs, I can truly say these folks are a special breed all of their own. None more special than the lady below. When the Twin Towers came down in NY on September 11th, this young woman got in fighting shape and joined the military. She is probably one of the finest dog handlers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. So devoted to caring and training her dogs, that her home kennel recently was awarded the Kennel of the Year award.

Female handler and MWD

Donald T. Tabb

Donald T. Tabb

John Douangdara and MWD Bart

John Douangdara and MWD Bart

There have been loses, too. And, this weekend is hard for many people. Over the course of the next day, I will be placing photos on our Facebook page to honor the handlers who have been KIA during Operation Enduring Freedom an Operation Iraqi Freedom. One of the most respected of them all was Donald T. Tabb, the young man shown below.

Another death that was very hard to accept was the downing of the helicopter in August of 2011 with many members of Seal Team Six aboard. Included in that crash, was the dog handler, John Douangdara, and his dog Bart. His sister and family continue to honor him through memorials and support for military working dogs.

We ask that as you go about your weekend, you take time to pause and remember all of those who have been lost in service to this country.

Miss Lola on the couch

MWDTSA has a lot of heart. We have amazing donors and spectacular volunteers. We have a lot of supporters, too. Including some of the canine persuasion. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share Miss Lola’s letter to any lonely deployed K9 boys out there. What dog could resist a girl like this?

Miss Lola relaxing in the car

Miss Lola relaxing in the car

Hello, fellow fur loves! My name is Lola and I am 18 pounds of pure Pug fury. I’m a lean, mean fighting machine. (Ok, maybe not THAT lean!) My mom keeps telling me about these awesome dogs that sniff out bombs and bad guys for a living, so I wanted to get to know some of you. First things first, allow me to give you my stats:

Age: 8
Nicknames: Round Mound of Hound, Fatty McFatty
Siblings: 1 fur brother, 2 little humans
Marital Status: Single and ready to mingle, if you like curvy girls ;-)
Job: Snoring so loudly that I wake up the whole house
Likes: Food, naps, food, ear rubs, food, stealing toys from the little humans, food, chewing up said toys, did I mention food??
Dislikes: Long walks, any human that doesn’t feed me, and on most days, my 2 little human siblings
Aspirations: To grow a snout and be a bad a$$ bomb dog

So there you have it, the real reason I want to get to know you…I want to know what it takes for me to become a MWP, Military Working Pug. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh your furry tails off. My mom calls me “tank” for a reason! I plow through anything that stands in my way and I’m one tough cookie. Any advice that you fellow fur loves could give me would be great. Whew, I’m pumped just thinking about the possibilities! In the mean time, I will start training to become one of the best and brightest of the US Military…right after my nap.

To keep you wanting more, I have attached a picture of my lovely physique. I’m sure you’re panting heavily after seeing this, hope to hear from you soon!

Should any suitors be interested in writing to Miss Lola, you can reach her via her very cool mom, Nikki. nikki@mwdtsa.org

Hatos balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of our great partners in our KONGs for K9s events, we received matching KONGs today. In fact, so many were matched at one time, that we were asked to have them delivered to a store, because they were going to ship via a pallet. Stepping in to accept the donation on our behalf were local owners of TC Country, Fabio and Sabine Yepes.

KONG toys are a favorite of Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and handlers. The bounce, texture and toughness makes them a perfect toy for a very motivated dog; a great reward for hard work put in by our MWDs.

Once delivered, we received the call from Fabio and Sabine so we rushed up to accept the boxes that arrived and stopped for a moment to take some photos. Inspired by one of our favorite MWD photos, Hatos balancing a KONG on his head, Fabio learned to do the same trick.

Apparently, you can teach an old dog a new trick, as demonstrated by our friend below.

Balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of MWDTSA’s KONGs for K9s partners, the KONG Company matched us one for one.

KONGs in a box

The shipment should last a few months! At least through our next round of care packages.

An assortment of red and black KONG toys

We are appreciative of the hundreds of supporters whose purchase of one KONG at a time allowed us this amazing donation from the KONG Company.

Sorting through KONGs in boxes