- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
There’s been some exceptionally noteworthy and, in at least one case, monumental, war-dog news this week. And being the ever-generous canine enthusiast that he is, Tom is letting Best Defense go to the dogs — at least for today.
In this special line-up we have a dispatch from the dedication ceremony of the first-ever official national memorial to military working dog teams and a post about the Special Forces dogs going after Joseph Kony.
But first, here’s a quick rundown of the headlines at home and abroad:
- For the first time, the Royal Australian Air Force is going to allow its military dogs to be adopted by their handlers and "spend the rest of their years out in the home environment rather than the service environment." Head of the MWD Unit at RAAF, Sgt. Russ Durre, called it "a big step from what we’ve done in the past." While civilians often adopt retiring MWDs, usually when a U.S. service dog retires there’s a nice long line of handlers ready and waiting to take their former partners home for keeps. Kudos to Aussie forces, but I’m guessing that the consensus is that this is a step long overdue.
- In October we said farewell to U.S. MWD Athos who was laid to rest on Oct. 30 at his home station at Joint Base Charleston, and to MWDs Fama and Beny who had both deployed to Iraq during their war-dog careers.
- In happier news, former Marine Corps IDD handler Sergeant Jonathan Cooper, who had been searching for news of his canine partner — a yellow lab named Ggunner — finally got word this week of the dog’s whereabouts. The two had deployed to Afghanistan together in 2011, but Cooper had lost track of the dog and put out word of his search on Facebook in the hopes of finding and eventually adopting Ggunner. Here’s hoping they’ll be reunited.
Hat tip: The nameless and still-dedicated former handlers who run the Military Working Dogs FB page.
Rebecca Frankel is special projects editor at Foreign Policy.