This March 13th, thank your local four-legged hero and join in the celebration of K9 Veteran’s Day! Though it is an unofficial holiday for the time being, K9 Veteran’s Day is all about the commemoration of military dogs and their contributions to the armed forces.
The United States K9 Corps were founded on March 13, 1942. This was the first time that canines were officially recognized a part of the U.S. Armed Forces, although they have been contributing to warfare as we know it for centuries. K9 Veteran’s Day celebrates more than just dogs serving in the military; police dogs, airport service K9s, customs K9s, border patrol K9s, and Secret Service K9s are all included in the holiday.
“I have personally worked alongside military working dogs for most of my military career, and on multiple occasions had a dog save my life by feeling a threat, sensing fear from the enemy, or even smelling out a hazard that would endanger his handler or team,” said local Veteran Army Dog Handler Blake Griswell.
Typically, Military Working Dogs are canines that have been raised and trained with the intent of protecting and assisting humans in potentially dangerous situations. Military Working Dogs are trained in a variety of services, including search and rescue, scouting, patrolling, explosive detection, and enemy pursuit.
“To have a connection and the type of bond that a great handler and great dog have is nothing short of incredible,” explained Griswell. “That bond continues even after the MWD is retired. Just like a person, you never forget your K9 and everything he did for you.”
Most dogs in the service are German shepherds, Dutch shepherds, and Belgian Malinois, often recruited for their combination of physical ability, stamina, and intelligence.
Labrador Retrievers may also be placed among the ranks of service dogs due to their intelligence and ease of training, usually here in the United States working in airports and within law enforcement.
Particularly good dogs are even able to earn medals for their heroic deeds carried out alongside their teams and handlers.
The K-9 Medal of Courage is an official award presented to Military Working Dogs for their bravery in combat. Today, Military Working Dogs and Service K9s continue to serve their countries all over the world, be it on land or on the sea.
“They can’t be beat. You feel invincible when you’re both working together,” concluded Griswell. “Many don’t realize how much we owe to service K9s.”