1. Military Working Dogs are partners, brothers and best friends to their service members.
2. Their dedication and loyalty has saved countless of lives throughout history, selflessly risking their own to protect the lives of their humans.
In honor of their hard work and bravery, we pay tribute to just a few of the many Military Working Dogs and Contract Working Dogs who willingly put their lives on the line each day.
3. Carlos the yellow Labrador was a Contract Working Dog and served a five-year tour in Explosive Detection.
He worked in Baghdad with the US Army’s 3rd and 4th Infantry Divisions before tranferring in 2009 to Kandahar where he worked with the US Special Forces.
4. Throughout his five-year service, Carlos was credited with mission finds that saved countless lives.
For his courage, he was named 2013 Military Dog Hero by at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
6. Now in his retirement, this veteran lives out his days in Colorado with a fellow Military Working Dog, Alik, eating yummy chicken jerky and “inspiring everyone he meets.”
8. Arco was deployed to United Arab Emirates, Balad and Iraq where he saved countless lives by discovering explosive devices.
After fighting through so many tours, he lost his last battle to an aggressive cancer. Here is Arco making his final trip into the veterinary office at Tyndall Air Force Base, receiving a well-earned salute from his comrades.
10. Sergeant Rex served ten years in the Marine Corps, even patrolling the triangle of death in Baghdad.
In 2004 Sgt. Rex spent his first deployment to the Middle East in Iraq with his handler, Corporal Mike Dowling. They were together for two and a half years, working the frontlines and saving American soldiers’ lives by locating planted explosives.
11. Sgt. Rex spent his next two deployments with Corporal Megan Leavey.
In 2006, the pair was on patrol when Sgt. Rex discovered a slew of planted explosives. As they continued their search, one of the explosives was detonated. Both Leavey and Sgt. Rex sustained severe injuries, but they remained at the scene and continued to work together.
Leavey’s military career came to end due to the injuries she sustained during the attack, but Sgt. Rex recovered so he went back to work.
Upon his retirement, Leavey started a campaign for his adoption. Sgt. Rex was reunited with Leavey and lived out the last eight months of his life with her, swimming, snuggling and playing in the snow for the first time.
13. Athos is a bomb-sniffing dog that sustained injuries in a rocket attack during his tour in Afghanistan.
The Czechs held a ceremony to honor the German Shepherd where he was regarded as “a soldier’s irreplaceable best friend.”
14. A Military Working Dog’s informal duty is being a “therapy and morale dog.”
While not on assignment, Fito helps keep things silly with his human and handler, Lance Cpl Jeremy D Angenend.
Fito and Angenend shared the same “goofy personality” and they were able to have fun together during their two-year tour overseas.
15. Lucca is an amputee veteran that lost her leg while protecting her platoon during an explosion in Afghanistan.
She served six years in the United States Marine Corps, spending two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. During this time, Lucca led “over 400 patrols” all of which resulted in no injuries to her fellow Marines.
17. Lucca spent two of her tours alongside her handler, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham.
Below, Willingham is pictured carrying Lucca back to the kennels after she led a successful two-hour search in the overwhelming heat of Iraq.
18. In 2012, Lucca was on patrol in Afghanistan when she located a planted explosive.
While protecting her platoon, a secondary explosive was triggered. Lucca lost her left front leg in the attack, which led to her retirement from the military.
19. Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham adopted Lucca upon her retirement, now making him Lucca’s human.
Willingham credits Lucca for saving his life on many occasions, stating that Lucca is the “only reason why [he] made it home to [his] family.”
20. In her retirement, Lucca makes frequent rounds to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where she “makes a dramatic impact on the lives of service members.”
21. She spends her days being spoiled and cared for by Willingham, her positive attitude never faltering.
22. It is the handlers’ job to help lead these pups into the heart of danger.
23. It’s the Military Working Dogs’ job to help lead them out, and these pups do it with honor.
If you’re interested in adopting a four-legged veteran, the official Military Working Dog adoption site is here.