Everyone loves a good pet story, especially when it has to do with the military working dogs. Rebecca Frankel delivers in her new book, War Dogs (St. Martin’s Press). We had an opportunity to get some pictures from John Nicholas at St. Martin’s and are very happy to share these with you.
Photo: Marine Sergeant Charlie Hardesty works with MWD Turbo during a training session at YPG.
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Fehringer guides MWD (Military Working Dog) Suk, across the obedience course at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico on August 15, 2012. Photo by Airman First Class Xavier Lockley
Photo: Combat Tracker dog Lex, who loves attention, enjoys some free time with his handler, Marine Lance Corporal John Peeler. Photo by Rebecca Frankel.
Photo: Layla relaxes in the arms of one of the Marines who took her in during their deployment to Afghanistan. Image by Rita Leistner/Basetrack
Interview with Rebecca Frankel
Can you pick a relationship between one of the dogs and handlers profiled in the book that inspires you the most?
That’s tough; they all inspire me. While the MWD community is relatively small compared to how large the U.S. military actually is, it is a uniquely devoted one. Handlers are very passionate about their work, and very committed to their job and their dogs.
But the stories that moved me the most were the ones where the dogs, in some fit of fighting or truly dangerous encounter would, in pure reaction, put themselves in harm’s way to protect their handlers. And the amazing thing was, it was not an anomaly; war after war, even with hundreds of years in between, dogs were moved to engage a threat to keep their handlers safe.
During the Vietnam War, a dog named Nemo crawled on top of his handler to shield him while they were under attack—taking a bullet and losing an eye in the process. In Afghanistan, a young Marine named Colton Rusk was shot by a Taliban sniper and his dog, Eli, a Labrador not generally known for being ferocious, did the same thing: He climbed on top of his fallen handler to protect him, snapping at anyone who tried to help him. It would be impossible not to be moved by these stories, and there are so many of them.
Continue reading our interview with Rebecca Frankel, author of War Dogs.
(Main image: While on foot patrol a group of Marines found Layla when she was a puppy, but because of the IED risk, taking her on patrols was too dangerous and they decided to trade her for some cigars to the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. Here she is with her marines from the 1/8 at Shir Ghazay Patrol Base in Landay Nawah County, Afghanistan. Image by Rita Leistner/Basetrack)