Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Is there a canine retirement plan?

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense chief canine correspondent The length of a military-working dog’s career varies and depends on many things, from the dog’s disposition, to how it adjusts to battle to its overall health, and any injuries or toll the grind — mental or physical — the job has taken on them over the ...

CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images, marines.mil
CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images, marines.mil

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent

The length of a military-working dog’s career varies and depends on many things, from the dog’s disposition, to how it adjusts to battle to its overall health, and any injuries or toll the grind — mental or physical — the job has taken on them over the years. But regardless of how long a dog can be deployed (or employed as training dogs), sooner or later the time for working is over, and when that happens these dogs have to leave their military home and find life and families out in the civilian.

Not surprisingly, a lot of these dogs are adopted by their handlers. Just this week, two dogs who closed out the final days of their careers were adopted by handlers. The first is Boda, called Boda Boots by those that knew her best for her fondness for gnawing on boot leather. The 10-year-old German Shepherd has developed cataracts but had a long and rather elite career as an explosives detection dog who worked on the secret service secret detail for “Presidents Bush, Carter, and Obama, as well as Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden.” The handler bringing Boda home with her, Cpl. Tonette Gezzi, had been this dog’s partner for the better part of the last year, and wasn’t the only one who wanted her on a permanent basis. But Gezzi was determined: “I can honestly say the first day I stepped into the kennel I took one look at her and said, ‘that’s a beautiful dog and I want her’ and fortunately I was able to adopt her out.”

Cindy, a 5-year-old Dutch shepherd, is half Boda’s age, but retired all the same this month. A favorite among her trainers, Cindy, a civilian patrol dog, broke her leg during a routine exercise. And even after going through rehabilitation it was decided the young dog — who also worked on the security teams for Presidents Obama and Carter — would have to cut her career short. It doesn’t seem like, Jon Renolds, a former Marine Corps kennel master and one of Cindy’s first handlers, thought this was such bad news.

Every now and then you run into one that you just bond with…If she had gone full tour, maybe nine years in service and she was old and ready to be adopted that’s when I was hoping to get her, but now that’s happened a lot sooner, I’m very glad,” Reynolds said. “It was my intent to have her a week after I started training her. The bond was there a week after I had her.'”

But it stands to reason that not every war dog will be able to make his or her home with a beloved former partner. Interested in providing a home to a retired war dog? These sites all appear to be legit and up to date. Please send in others if you know of them or more information about adopting war-dog retirees.

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent

The length of a military-working dog’s career varies and depends on many things, from the dog’s disposition, to how it adjusts to battle to its overall health, and any injuries or toll the grind — mental or physical — the job has taken on them over the years. But regardless of how long a dog can be deployed (or employed as training dogs), sooner or later the time for working is over, and when that happens these dogs have to leave their military home and find life and families out in the civilian.

Not surprisingly, a lot of these dogs are adopted by their handlers. Just this week, two dogs who closed out the final days of their careers were adopted by handlers. The first is Boda, called Boda Boots by those that knew her best for her fondness for gnawing on boot leather. The 10-year-old German Shepherd has developed cataracts but had a long and rather elite career as an explosives detection dog who worked on the secret service secret detail for “Presidents Bush, Carter, and Obama, as well as Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden.” The handler bringing Boda home with her, Cpl. Tonette Gezzi, had been this dog’s partner for the better part of the last year, and wasn’t the only one who wanted her on a permanent basis. But Gezzi was determined: “I can honestly say the first day I stepped into the kennel I took one look at her and said, ‘that’s a beautiful dog and I want her’ and fortunately I was able to adopt her out.”

Cindy, a 5-year-old Dutch shepherd, is half Boda’s age, but retired all the same this month. A favorite among her trainers, Cindy, a civilian patrol dog, broke her leg during a routine exercise. And even after going through rehabilitation it was decided the young dog — who also worked on the security teams for Presidents Obama and Carter — would have to cut her career short. It doesn’t seem like, Jon Renolds, a former Marine Corps kennel master and one of Cindy’s first handlers, thought this was such bad news.

Every now and then you run into one that you just bond with…If she had gone full tour, maybe nine years in service and she was old and ready to be adopted that’s when I was hoping to get her, but now that’s happened a lot sooner, I’m very glad,” Reynolds said. “It was my intent to have her a week after I started training her. The bond was there a week after I had her.'”

But it stands to reason that not every war dog will be able to make his or her home with a beloved former partner. Interested in providing a home to a retired war dog? These sites all appear to be legit and up to date. Please send in others if you know of them or more information about adopting war-dog retirees.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1
Tag: War

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