Are Dog Teams Hired Guns?
Generally speaking dog teams are a “pooled” resource. That means that they are used when and where they are needed and don’t stay with just one unit. As far as I can tell this seems to be a trend that goes back to at least Vietnam.
I’ve already blogged about this great book and now I will again: Karl Marlantes New York Time bestselling Matterhorn is a book I think you’re going to want to read.
In the book, our four-legged hero Pat has recovered from his lack of food, water, and rest. Pat is revved up to see the fellas (giving some unconditional love) and is ready up to go kick some VietCong butt. The only problem….. Bravo Troop is now the “Bald Eagle” troop and is on standby to swoop in by helicopter and rescue any unit in trouble.
I love this scene:
“You back with us for a while?” Jancowitz asked.
“Not as long as you’re on the Bald F**cking Eagle, I ain’t.” Arran answered. ”No need for an f***cking four – legged radar set when they dump you in the middle of the sh*t.” He turned to Pat. “We’re specialists, ain’t we Pat.? Pat wagged his tail. (Matterhorn, iPad P425)
So the Corporal Arran and Military Working Dog Pat are being sent out on patrol with another troop. Forget about the bonds and trust established with Bravo Troop. The four-legged asset is needed elsewhere. Vietnam – Afghanistan–some things never change.
Imagine you just joined a new patrol. You’re the new guy and you know that the twelve men all staring at you are expecting you to walk point. You all know that everyone’s life is in your team’s hands (and paws!).
Fear, apprehension and anxiety began to fill your soul.You look down at your side and see your four-legged battle buddy by your side, tongue hanging to the left, looking to you with his big brown eyes, You finally smile and rub his furry little head as warm reassurance fills your body, replacing that anxiety.
So to answer the question in my title: in a word, yes, dogs are hired guns. At least for the most part.
How do handlers build trust with their new units?
How do the dog teams gain the respect of the new units? What happens if they don’t build this trust?
How do you do this every day for a full year?
In Paws on the Ground I put you in the head of the American soldier who experiences trials, tribulations, and maybe a few triumphs as he wrestles with these issues.
The picture above is of Specialist John Nolan and Military Working Dog Honza. (Afghanistan, April 2012)
Learn more about John and Honza on Monday, April 9, 2012. You can also read about John being “taken down” by Uti the Malligator at this link.
Click here to subscribe and receive my weekly blog posts directly to your email. You don’t want to miss a thing!