U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shannon Chace

At 13 pounds, Sandy may not look like your stereotypical service dog. The Shih Tzu-yorkie mix, found abandoned in an alley, has a face that seems more doll-like than dutiful.

But for owner Teri Pleinis — a 23-year Army veteran diagnosed with PTSD after serving in Iraq — Sandy has been life-changing.

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A military working dog. (U.S. Army/Zeteo Tech)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Man's best friend has been fighting on battlefields for centuries, but the modern four-legged battle buddy is much more sophisticated than his predecessor with more advanced gear.

The modern U.S. military has multi-purpose tactical dogs, search and rescue dogs, explosive detection dogs, and tracking dogs, among other types of canines, and the dogs have their own special equipment.

The Army, which is currently undergoing its largest modernization in decades, has been working hard to modernize the force, equipping soldiers with state-of-the-art gear, such as lightweight helmets that can withstand sniper fire and night-vision goggles that let them shoot around corners.

And military working dogs aren't being left out of the modernization push.

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K9s For Warriors is the nation's largest nonprofit connecting veterans to service dogs. Its program trains rescue dogs to be service dogs for post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma. (K9s for Warriors)

Editor's Note: This article by Dorothy Mills-Gregg originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Lawmakers and veterans advocacy groups are ready for change after waiting nearly a decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policy on not reimbursing service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, Act would require the VA to offer $25,000 vouchers to veterans suffering with PTSD for use at qualifying nonprofits. Currently, the VA only supports service dogs for use in mobility issues, not in cases that only involve mental health conditions.

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Caro, 355th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, partakes in obedience training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 23, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Kristine Legate)

Seems hard to believe, but the U.S. Air Force says it's having a hard time finding homes for retired military working dogs.

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Gaya, an explosive detection dog with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, awaits a command. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

U.S.-trained bomb-sniffing dogs sent to ally Jordan are losing their will to work and dying due to improper care, a recently released Department of State inspector general evaluation found.

The U.S. has been sending these specially trained dogs to Jordan for years as part of the extensive Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP). Since 2008, at least 10 of the dogs have died from medical problems. Other canines were found to be living in unhealthy conditions that the IG report characterized as "disturbing."

"Canines lose their effectiveness when their quality of life is poor," the report read.

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Yeager, an improvised explosive device detection dog, waits for the beginning of a memorial service in honor of Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, a dog handler and mortarman who served with Weapons Company, 2nd Bn., 9th Marines, on April 22, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps/ Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez)

In 2012, Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe and his dog, Sgt. Yeager, were patrolling the Marjah district of Iraq.

A Marine had been injured by an IED, an improvised explosive device, so the pair were looking for other bombs in the area.

Suddenly, Tarwoe stepped on a buried IED, and it exploded, killing him.

Yeager suffered shrapnel wounds that took months to recover from and cost him part of his right ear.

Ninety-two military working dogs died in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-13, according to a study in Military Medicine. Roughly one in four died from explosions, the second leading cause of death after gunshot wounds.

Yeager was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries after serving three combat tours and over 100 detection patrols.

Now, the 12-year-old Labrador retriever is going to Hollywood, where he will be honored as the nation's top military dog and will compete for the title of American Hero Dog.

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