Best Defense

‘War Dogs’: A view from a dog handler

By Sean Lulofs Best Defense guest canine columnist In a military of more than 1.4 million active duty members, the military working dog program makes up less than one thousandth of one percent of the force. The world of military working dogs is one that even others in uniform do not understand and it is ...

37763_140314_wdotw.jpg

By Sean Lulofs

Best Defense guest canine columnist

In a military of more than 1.4 million active duty members, the military working dog program makes up less than one thousandth of one percent of the force. The world of military working dogs is one that even others in uniform do not understand and it is a world shrouded in mystery and myth. This small group of men and women are a community unto their own with their own language and social norms. Rebecca Frankel has been able to do what others have not — break down the barriers and delve into the complete lives of the military working dog handler.

It was not easy for me, the eternal skeptic of all humans, to allow Rebecca insight into who I am or my community is. Rebecca was able to develop a relationship with me and my community because of her commitment to telling the truth, regardless if it was flattering or not. This demonstrated a level of integrity that is sorely missing in the world of media communications today. Rebecca’s integrity and thirst for knowledge sent her on a vision quest which became her rite of passage to becoming a member of the military canine family. Her dedication and commitment not only assured me but also my brothers and sisters that our stories will finally be told completely.

Once I knew Rebecca had no agenda or preconceived story she wanted to tell, I knew she was the person I could open up to. I found speaking to her to be not only easy but also cathartic as she asked questions no one had asked before. My hours speaking with her felt like only minutes as I wanted to try give her over 20 years of experience in only minutes of conversation. I not only enjoyed our discussions but I looked forward to the next time we would speak.

Rebecca has shown a remarkable empathy for the corps of handlers and has told our stories in a straightforward and forthright way. Rebecca is not only someone who I came to trust and respect but someone who I now call my friend. And earning my friendship is not easy.

Very Respectfully,

Sean C. Lulofs
Cogent K9
Owner/Lead Trainer

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

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola