Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Best care package ever

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent What dog lover wouldn’t smile at this photo of ecstatic Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD) Alex diving with unfettered joy into a sea of neon tennis balls? The balls were donated to the TEDD teams, stationed at FOB Pasab in Kandahar, by a family member. This generous ...

Photo by Capt. Allie Scott
Photo by Capt. Allie Scott
Photo by Capt. Allie Scott

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

What dog lover wouldn't smile at this photo of ecstatic Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD) Alex diving with unfettered joy into a sea of neon tennis balls? The balls were donated to the TEDD teams, stationed at FOB Pasab in Kandahar, by a family member. This generous individual sent nearly 3,000 tennis balls. While Alex is clearly off the clock, tennis balls and kongs are not only used for play, but are a pivotal part of the work these dogs do -- functioning as their driving reward for a job well done in training and in the field.

And though this photo was taken in May 2012 and, yes, the U.S. military is downsizing its fighting force in Afghanistan, rest assured there are still many MWD teams not only stationed in conflict areas, but who are still being deployed to war zones. I'm still seeing calls for donations and care packages to be sent out to handlers and their dogs. Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association, who has been sending these care packages since 2002, hasn't slowed the steady stream of work he does ensuring these dogs and their handlers are outfitted with whatever they might need on deployment. Including treats, chew toys, and doggie beds, these boxes also include more practical items like cooling mats, K-9 grooming products, and doggles. You can see a list of needed items here.

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

What dog lover wouldn’t smile at this photo of ecstatic Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD) Alex diving with unfettered joy into a sea of neon tennis balls? The balls were donated to the TEDD teams, stationed at FOB Pasab in Kandahar, by a family member. This generous individual sent nearly 3,000 tennis balls. While Alex is clearly off the clock, tennis balls and kongs are not only used for play, but are a pivotal part of the work these dogs do — functioning as their driving reward for a job well done in training and in the field.

And though this photo was taken in May 2012 and, yes, the U.S. military is downsizing its fighting force in Afghanistan, rest assured there are still many MWD teams not only stationed in conflict areas, but who are still being deployed to war zones. I’m still seeing calls for donations and care packages to be sent out to handlers and their dogs. Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association, who has been sending these care packages since 2002, hasn’t slowed the steady stream of work he does ensuring these dogs and their handlers are outfitted with whatever they might need on deployment. Including treats, chew toys, and doggie beds, these boxes also include more practical items like cooling mats, K-9 grooming products, and doggles. You can see a list of needed items here.

War-Dog Update:  As recently as Nov. 5, Ron Aiello posted this call: 

OK! I am waiting for more names and addresses to come in.
Again, US War Dogs Association is reaching out to MWD Teams who are deployed.
If you are deployed or if you know of someone deployed please contact us with a name and address that we may send them a care package too. Also if you are deployed and need anything in particular items , just let us know. Email me at ronaiello@uswardogs.org or send me a personal message through facebook. Stay Safe. Ron Aiello 

He’s already received requests for 60 dog teams and is hoping for more… 

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

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