Navy SEAL Dogs Kick Ass!

An article in the New York Times today, A Bin Laden Hunter on Four Legs, captured my attention. I confess, I haven’t been paying attention to any of the hullabalou over the OBL affair, but mention dogs (or any other critter) and I’m all over it.

war dog military service working canine
The NYT reports that the identities of all 80 members of the American commando team who thundered into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden are the subject of intense speculation, but perhaps none more so than the only member with four legs. And though the dog in question remains an enigma, there should be little reason to speculate about why there was a dog involved: Man’s best friend is a pretty (bad-ass) fearsome warrior.

Most likely a Belgian Malinois (though officials say it could also have been a German Shepherd), the non-human member of the SEAL team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound. The heroic pooch was strapped to a Navy SEAL as they were lowered from a hovering helicopter. Bitchin!

skydiving war dog military service working canine
Not knowing the first thing about the military, but piqued by the story of the mystery dog, I learned that throughout history, dogs, otherwise known as military working dogs (MWDs), have been intricately involved in the military; dogs have been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers for more than 100 years, seeing combat in the Civil War and World War I. But their service was informal; only in 1942 were canines officially inducted into the U.S. Army.

Troups hangin with military service working dogs
Today, they’re a central part of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan — as of early 2010 the U.S. Army had 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed (the largest canine contingent in the world). Currently there are 600 dogs serving in Afghanistan and Iraq alone, and that number is expected to grow substantially over the next year.

war dog military service working canine SEAL
Typically, the breed of dogs in the military are either the German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, but also popular with the troops are the growing number of Labrador retrievers. The duties they perform are simply incredible, but one of them in particular I found utterly captivating: skydiving. That’s right, jumping out of an aircraft, high above the earth.

skydiving war dog military service working canine
Dogs usually jump in tandem with their trainers, but when properly outfitted with flotation vests they can make short jumps into water on their own. A U.S. Navy SEAL, Mike Forsythe, and his dog, Cara recently broke the world record for “highest man/dog parachute deployment” by jumping from 30,100 feet. How brave is that? Truly bitchin, man, bitchin.

skydiving war dog military service working canine SEAL Cara & Mike world record winner
Show me more! More! More!

In this video a man is shown skydiving with — get ready — his cat! I’m speechless.



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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (20) Write a comment

  1. Love to see the dogs with these soldiers. How amazing that these men, in an awful environment, are able to give and receive the love from these precious dogs. They must see horrible things everyday, to come back to a dog waging it’s tail, happy to see them, makes my heart swell!


  2. Love all your posts about the working dogs! Esp. the photos which show the special bond between the dog and handler = being a buddy to each other.

    Noticed your new yellow DONATE button, so am contributing to your constant and tireless devotion to get the news out, whether it be corporate sleaze, rendering plants, toxic treats, Chinese shenanigans, or Santa in rehab.!!! Hope that this little bit will help you get your dead car back on the road. No fun living in the sticks without wheels.

    You’re our Watchdog! Go get’m fang!



    • Hey, thanks for the donation! Every little bit helps. I think it’s important to support the people who do this kind of work, the people who work tirelessly without pay or recognition, who live in poverty most of the time, struggling to stay afloat.

      And yes, I do miss having my car. I thought for sure I would have gotten it back by this Christmas, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I still need a few thousand to finish the work on it.

      Word to the stupid – do NOT EVER loan your precious, dearly beloved vintage Mercedes Benz to someone, anyone, even your best friend when they are still in recovery. Read: she fell off the wagon while driving MY CAR! I could have killed her. After she totalled my car, guess who was left to pay for the repair? Yours, truly, Stupid. Indeed, it was a small fortune to a penniless animal activist – the not-so-bright, but now much wiser – me.


  3. Titanium teeth ARE in fact used on dogs the civilian police departments use them because their dogs gnaw on their cages causing them pain and making them irritable/damaging their teeth so they replaced them with titanium


    • You rock! Thanks for clearing up the story. I heard sooo many people weigh in, I lost track. I absolutely LOVED doing the stories about the MWDs’. It’s been THE most viewed article since I began this work. I’m trying to do a Xmas special for the boys in the service – still looking for some good pics! Keep your eye’s peeled. Thanks!


  4. The real teeth of a german shepheard do get broken, but they can eat a hole in a chain link fence, My Rufus and Scamp *(brothers) were near a female in a cage need I tell you the rest, they lost most there front teeth but the puppys were great


    • That’s a great story! I’m assuming their they weren’t German Shepherds? “The puppies were great”. Tee hee. A chain link fence, huh? Gee, I had a boyfriend like that. I’m kidding! Do you think the titanium teeth story is a myth or not? One guy said it was true. Wired magazine (what do they know) said it wasn’t true. I guess I could always ask my dentist. Hey, that gives me an idea – the ultimate “grill”, titanium teeth. Gold is so yesterday.


    • You are so welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a pleasure and a joy to do it.

      I really had no idea about the program, the wonderful dogs, the handlers/soldiers, the vets, Lackland AFB, the 341st, the breeding program.

      They deserve all the respect in the world. I am in awe of them.


  5. Awesome story. The titanium fangs are too sci-fi for me, as I think Nature made GSD just fine the way they are naturally. But, who knows why the military does what they do?! These dogs rock! And Labs? As Mommy to a wonderful black Lab-mix, I can’t say too many good things about the breed. I love both GSDs and Labs. I never knew dogs were used as paratroopers; what a surprise. Thanks for this blog.


    • Thank you Annabelle’s Mom!

      It turns out the titanium teeth story was not true according to an article in Wired magazine. The article explained, in detail, why it was unrealistic. So, I took that part down. Phooey! It made for interesting copy that’s for sure!

      I didn’t know dogs were paratroopers either! What an education! I guess dogs lack depth-of-field in their vision, so jumping at high altitudes is not a problem! Amazing. And those vests they wear are worth thousands of dollars; they are technologically advanced marvels of construction. Bulletproof, stab-proof, icepick-proof and on and on.

      Yes, they do use Labs! The three breeds common to the military are German Sheperd, the Belgian Malimois and Labrador retriever.



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