Feast your eyes on these 9 very good and adorable military dogs for National K-9 Veterans Day

Mandatory Fun
Military Working Dog, Saber, and his former handler, Marine Corps Sgt. Rosendo Madrigal at Camp Pendleton, 2016. Photo: Sgt. Madrigal

Today is National K-9 Veterans Day, and if you didn't know, it's truly my honor to be the one to tell you.


Military Working Dogs are an integral part of many military units, whether they're helping detect explosives or narcotics. For some service members, having a dog around kept them "distracted...from exhaustion, complacency, and being far from home;" and for others, the pups can play a big role as therapy dogs when their service comes to a close.

One military working dog, Maiko, is credited with saving Army Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment's 2nd Battalion, though it cost him his life.

"These dogs have saved countless lives and prevented innumerable horrific injuries. As a nation, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude," Mike Ritland, a former Navy SEAL and founder of Warrior Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that helps rehabilitate special operation and law enforcement dogs, said in a statement to Task & Purpose.

These very good boys and girls are not listed in any ranking, as I'm incapable of choosing a favorite.

Dango

Dango and his handler, former Army Spc. Jon Zal.

Photo courtesy of Zal

Dango — a Belgian Malinois — was a military working dog that was trained as both a patrol and narcotics-detection dog, former Army Spc. Jon Zal, who was an Army Military Police K-9 Handler at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, California from 1988 to 1992, told Task & Purpose. He was "incredibly smart" and an "absolute chow hound," Zal said.

"If left to his own devices, he would have weighed 300 pounds," Zal told Task & Purpose, in what is surely one of the most relatable statements I could ever hear about a dog.

When Zal left the Army, Dango eventually went to work at Lackland AFB as a training dog for new K-9 handlers, where Zal says he assumed is where he lived out the rest of his years. Zal told Task & Purpose it was incredibly hard to leave him behind, especially because he probably "assumed I was coming back the next day, and probably didn't understand why I was giving him a cheeseburger."

Saber

Saber, in 2015. Madrigal said Saber "acted like a person and would jump up and sit in chairs on his own."

Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Sgt. Rosendo "Magic" Madrigal

Saber is a black lab and explosive detection dog, who has deployed to the Middle East for base operations with his former handler (and soon-to-be owner) Marine Corps Sgt. Rosendo "Magic" Madrigal, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, who told Task & Purpose that Saber is "not your typical Military Working Dog."

"[Saber]...was never trained to do bite work. He is a big love bug and has a very funny personality. ... He constantly needs attention and will just come up to you and lean all his weight on you and will lick you a lot."

Madrigal said that he worked with Saber for three-and-a-half years before being sent to Japan, when the two had to part ways. But a year later, he went back to visit Saber, and now the pup is in "the last steps of his retirement paperwork," when he'll go home with Madrigal for good.

"He cracks me up," Madrigal told Task & Purpose. "I cannot wait to spoil him when he's finally done!"

Izzy

Photo courtesy of Emily Demeter

Izzy is a registered therapy dog who works with student veterans at the Veteran Services office at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.

Her owner Emily Demeter, who has no military experience herself but has worked with veterans for several years, told Task & Purpose that when she's in the office, you can find Izzy "greeting visitors looking for all the petting that she can get, or snoring in her bed awaiting the next visitor."

"When Izzy is not visiting her veteran family," Demeter said. "She is often at home sunbathing and chasing her squirrel friend Buddy through the backyard."

Kyra

Photo courtesy of the Warrior Dog Foundation

Kyria is a seven-and-a-half year old Dutch Shepard, who worked at Lackland AFB before joining the Albuquerque Police Department as an explosive detection canine. She's also the only female dog at the Warrior Dog Foundation.

Nico

Photo courtesy of the Warrior Dog Foundation.

Nico served for several years with the Navy SEALs, and completed two tours in the Middle East. He "saved countless human lives, provided a security that simply cannot be replicated," and was "vital to the success" of special ops missions, the Warrior Dog Foundation told Task & Purpose.

After four years of rehabilitation at the Foundation, Nico was reunited with his former handler.

Rocky

Photo courtesy of Warrior Dog Foundation.

Rocky is 11 years old, and served eight years with the Air Force, working as a patrol and explosive detection dog at Aviano Air Base in Italy.

At the Warrior Dog Foundation, Rocky and the other dogs chow down on a beef and veggie mix, with duck fat "to promote a healthy coat," according to the Foundation.

That duck fat is clearly doing wonders for Rocky, who doesn't look a day over two, if you ask me.

Blackjack

Photo courtesy of Warrior Dog Foundation.

Blackjack was diagnosed with Canine-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while on deployment, after a tire on a vehicle blew up while he was inspecting it for bombs. He retired, and was adopted by one of handlers.

Unfortunately his handler was killed by a drunken driver in 2015, and Blackjack moved in with his handler's mother, until he went to live with the Warrior Dog Foundation.

Alan

Alan and Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Cleophus Gallon.

Photo courtesy of Senior Master Sgt. Gallon

While Alan is no longer with us, his former handler Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Cleophus Gallon, Superintendent for the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron, told Task & Purpose that he "has always maintained a place in my heart."

Gallon said Alan, an explosive detection dog, served three tours in Iraq and saved "a lot of lives," along with his own. Alan also worked with Gallon on various Secret Service details in the early 2000s.

"After I retire," Gallon told Task & Purpose. "I will always look back on my K-9 experiences as the best part of my career."

Mudflap

Mudflap and former Sgt. Pete Stegemeyer.

Photo courtesy of former Sgt. Stegemeyer

Though not an official Military Working Dog, Mudflap befriended soldiers at Forward Operation Base Four Corners in Afghanistan, 2011.

I believe he deserves an honorable mention, and anyone who disagrees can get the hell over it.

Former Sgt. Pete Stegemeyer, who left the service five years ago, told Task & Purpose that because they technically weren't allowed to have Mudflap, he and other soldiers would hide him when visitors came and he'd sit "quietly until the coast was clear."

"He went on patrols with us sometimes and would scare off other dogs we came across, and sometimes prevented people from getting too close to us on patrol," Stegemeyer told Task & Purpose. "Unfortunately, he was injured during a mortar attack and died from his injuries a week or two later. He was a good boy."

And then, of course, there are those who just aren't cut out for the working world.

It happens to the best of us.

SEE NEXT: How to Retire a Military Working Dog

WATCH ALSO: Marines Prove Why K9s Make The Best Teammates


(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.

Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.

A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.

Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.

At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.

Sylvester Stallone is back as John Rambo. Why? Because nothing is (ever) over with this guy.

Read More Show Less
Popular Mobilization Forces fighters wave flags in this June 2016 photo. (Wikimedia Commons/Tasnim News Agency)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel.

The statement from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

Read More Show Less
Lake County Sheriff's Department

A U.S. Marine reservist has been charged with felony kidnapping, stalking, and criminal confinement after he allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old Indiana girl and brought her to Arkansas.

Alexander Martin Curry-Fishtorn, 22, was charged Tuesday in Indiana's Lake Superior Court with 17 felonies and four misdemeanors, according to The Chicago Tribune. On Aug. 16, Fishtorn allegedly kidnapped the girl and drove her to a friend's house in Arkansas with an apparent plan to hold her there until she was 18, ABC 7 reported.

Read More Show Less
Robert Morris Levy (Associated Press/Washington County Sheriff's Department)

A former doctor at an Arkansas Veteran Affairs hospital was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three veterans to whom he allegedly provided false diagnoses.

Read More Show Less