A Special Kind Of Bond

October 30, 2008

Currently a military working dog team in Stuttgart, Germany is waiting to see if the canine warrior will be awarded the Combat Action Badge. That team, Army SSG Cully Parr, a dog handler with the 554th Military Police Company, Military Working Dog Section and his dog Rex, were deployed to Afghanistan and were attacked by insurgents.

“We were caught up in a two-hour firefight – where we were engaged by the enemy with indirect fire and small arms fire – during a town hall meeting for the local Afghan community,” Parr said. “For over a week we went out to villages and informed the people about the meeting. We had humanitarian aid, such as rice and other supplies, for them at the meeting to take back to their villages.”

But during the meeting, enemy fighters attacked. “The first thing I did was get Rex behind a pillar, and I took up a position next to him,” Parr said. Despite the ensuing chaos, Rex, a patrol and explosive detection dog, never budged. “That’s where obedience training comes into play,” Parr said. “He’s got to stay there, so he doesn’t risk getting injured.”1

They’re back in Germany now and settling into a much less exciting and less stressful routine. Their day begins every morning at 0530, with feeding and then training. The handlers are responsible for training their dog, as well as responsible for their care and the care of at least one other dog. Currently at the kennels in Stuggart, there are 11 dogs and two Soldiers and their dogs are currently deployed.

For the dogs, they don’t consider their training work. Instead to them, it’s fun and time that they’re able to spend with their handler. Each dog has a toy they’re working for, while they’re training. They’re not only obedience trained, but trained on a particular odor. Handlers set up difficult scenarios for their dogs. Some are trained to detect narcotics, others explosives or cadavers. Regardless of their specialty, their constantly training to go downrange. Currently, the MP Company in Stuttgart has handler and dog teams going downrange about every six months.2

Regardless of what’s going on with the dogs, dental appointments, veterinary appointments, their handlers are right beside them, continuing to build the bond that makes them a strong working team. The handler knows how his or her dog will react and the dog knows how their handler will react. That emotional bond between the Soldier and their dog is a strong one. Often after the dog retires, the handler will attempt to adopt them.

Military Working Dog teams do great work during deployments, work that saves the lives of many Soldiers. It’s only fitting that Rex should be awarded a Combat Action Badge, just like any other Soldier would. Military working dogs do their jobs without question and will fight to the death to save the life of their handler and other Soldiers. They’re right there on the frontlines just like their human counterparts.

  1. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51700 []
  2. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51700 []


One Response to “A Special Kind Of Bond”

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