Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: A Insider’s Lesson in War-Dog Vocabulary

There are a lot of things one learns quickly when they make introduction to the Military Working Dog community: The first rule, always: Do not approach an MWD — no matter how friendly they might appear from a distance -- unless you have the OK from the handler.

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-US
A Soldier of the 10 Mountain Division US Army 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment walks with a sniffer dog at Afghan National Army (ANA) Forward Operating Base Muqor in Ghazni province on May 28, 2013. US-led coalition forces are winding down their operations before a scheduled withdrawal of the bulk of their 100,000 troops by the end of 2014, and racing to prepare Afghan forces to take over responsibility for security. AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

 

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

There are a lot of things one learns quickly when they make introduction to the Military Working Dog community: The first rule, always: Do not approach an MWD — no matter how friendly they might appear from a distance — unless you have the OK from the handler. And even then, you still better have the OK from the dog. (If you learn this lesson the hard way, you’ll never forget it.)

And once those introductions are made, there’s a lot to learn to understanding this group just as you would with any culture or minority culture — the MWD community is part of the wider military community. And as such it has its very own language — technical terms, acronyms, and common phrases and sayings of which there are many.

For example it’s really important to understand the difference between “dual purpose” dogs and “single purpose” dogs. A dual purpose MWD is just what it sounds like — a dog with two jobs. And those jobs are most likely going to be a pairing of scent detection (drugs or bomb) and patrol work. There are others you pick up in more casual ways, things like “catching a bite” or “melting a dog” but they’re equally as crucial to navigation the handler speak of training dogs to go to war. But those are really just the basics.

Mike Dowling, a former dog handler and one of the very first to go into war in Iraq with his MWD Rex in 2004, has culled together a great collection of in-the-know terms and sayings. It’s particularly close to the handler bone because Dowling queried the handler community first before honing down his list. It contains everything from “Hot Sauce” to “Landsharks.” It’s fun, informative… and it’s officially recommended war-dog weekend reading.

DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

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. @tomricks1

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