(NEW YORK) — They’re some of the military’s most loyal and dedicated assets — and they also happen to be the furriest.
Military working dogs can help patrol bases, detect explosives and narcotics, and even take down hostile threats, all at the direction of their trainers.
“I would say it is the best military job there is. If I could do it forever, I would do it forever,” said Staff Sgt. Krystle Draper, a K-9 Handler stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Her “partner” at work is military working dog Jop, who patrols the base to keep it safe.
Every day, Draper and Jop go through hours of rigorous training to keep the pup’s skills sharp. Jop can be unleashed on suspicious persons, incapacitating them with a fierce bite to the arm or leg. But Jop is also playful, often jumping into Draper’s arms.
Jop’s job can be a dangerous one. Many military dogs who experience trauma in war zones can show signs of post-traumatic stress, just like humans.
“If they have a traumatic experience and it could affect them for the rest of their lives.,” Draper said. “Dogs are similar to people in many ways. They’re very emotionally connected.”
Military working dogs serve tours of duty just like servicemembers and usually work until they’re 8 or 9 years old, after which they can be adopted by their handlers, other military personnel or even civilians.
“They do all the same things we do minus getting paid, minus getting benefits, minus getting leave. They never truly have a day off if you think about it,” Draper points out. “They do all of this for a pat on the back, a ‘good boy,’ and a toy.”
But it’s clear that the love shared between handler and dog is the most important benefit — and an unconditional one.
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