Once outcast and shunned from the military dog community, Sergeant Daniel Sandoval had gotten a second chance. He was accepted into the Fort Bragg’s dog kennels unconditionally.
Daniel was paired up with the stubborn, oversized wolf dog, Military Working Dog Bony. He was excited for the challenge and worked on bonding with the experienced German shepherd.
His wife Sabrina had just given birth to their second son, Carver. This should have been one of the happiest times of Daniel’s life.
But it wasn’t.
Daniel was stressed to the max. His career and his family were seemingly on a crash course and giving him sleepless nights.
He needed to talk to his new kennel master, Staff First Class Webster, the same man who squashed any rumors of Daniel purposely failing certification at his prior kennel so he wouldn’t have to deploy. He had given Daniel a second chance and now Daniel had to face him. He had to tell him he couldn’t go to certification, and he might need to delay deployment. His son was having trouble breathing. He couldn’t leave him or his wife Sabrina like this. But how would Webster react?
Webster was under pressure to deliver certified dog teams to the troops on the front lines in Afghanistan. The kennel needed to fill their deployment slots. Someone would have to fill this slot. Daniel had gotten in trouble before. Now he was facing the same basic problem—he couldn’t deploy on schedule.
He dragged his feet as he shuffled through the dirt parking lot. Dogs were barking in the background while several teams were out in the exercise yard, running their dogs through the obstacle course. He should have been with them, preparing for certification. He couldn’t bear to look at them.
His mind foggy, his heart pounding, he walked into Webster’s office.
“Sandoval, I heard about your son. Talk to me, Sergeant,” Webster said as he gestured Daniel to sit.
Daniel hesitated. Was this man—a man in a position to destroy his career—actually going to listen? Webster had given him another chance. Maybe he should trust him? What choice did he have?
Daniel poured out his heart to the man who sat, listened, and nodded.
“Listen, Sandoval. I don’t want you to think of certification, deploying, or Bony until you take care of your family. I need your head in the game.”
He couldn’t believe this. Here sat a leader who actually cared about him as a person. More importantly, he cared about Daniel’s family.
It was no longer a matter of if he certified and deployed. When he would do so was the question. He wouldn’t let Webster down.
Carver had been born with meconium in his lungs, making his oxygen level very low. For weeks Sabrina and Daniel spent days and nights at the children’s hospital in the NICU.
With Carver’s breathing problem under control, Daniel returned to the kennels more determined than ever for redemption. He had something to prove—not to the leadership that cast him away from the kennels at his prior duty station. He was seeking redemption for his family and himself from the man who had given him another chance.
Was it lucky for him that he was partnered with the hulking wolf dog? Bony was an intimidating, 100-pound stubborn knucklehead. He considered himself to be alpha. Bony did what he wanted when he wanted. Bony thought he was in charge. Bony was wrong.
Woof. Woof Woof.
Drool dripped from the grey chin of the Wolf as he charged the kennel door. His lips curled back as he emitted a series of viscous snarls.
Specialist Jiminez backed away as the Wolf’s spittle shot through the mesh door..
Daniel smiled and stared at Bony. Jiminez had just returned from Afghanistan and was going to help him get ready for certification.
Bony didn’t know Jiminez. Bony didn’t like anyone he didn’t know. Unless of course they were female. The Wolf loved the ladies.
Daniel slammed the door open and Bony leaped backwards. He stepped into the kennel run. Bony’s tail wagged and his ears flopped backwards.
The now docile grey wolf rolled on his back and begged Daniel for love.
“He likes to act like he is tough guy. But don’t worry. He is just showboating,” Daniel told Jiminez.
Daniel had broken him down during training and turned him into a loyal partner. Daniel’s determination and skill combined with Bony’s experience made them a formidable dog team. They breezed through their local and official certification and quickly found themselves on an airplane heading to Afghanistan.
Daniel’s orders assigned him to the Special Operations Command at Bagram Airbase. He wasn’t sure who he would be working with: Green Berets, Seals, Marines or Coalition Special Operations. He knew he would be all right though. He had Bony the Wolf Dog by his side.
Click on the Daniel and Bony tag below for the other parts of this story.
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