U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Julia A. Casper
Dogs have been a staple of military life for ages, but in recent years, military working dogs have captured the attention of countless Americans, and for good reason. There’s Cairo, the Belgian Malinois that accompanied SEAL Team 6 on the infamous May 2011 Osama bin Laden raid. And of course, there are the countless other military working dogs who supported their handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to “pull security” on military bases across the globe.
When Smuckers, a Golden Labrador mix, was frantically digging in her owners’ backyard, she inadvertently turned one of the most irritating dog habits into something meaningful, by finding a Purple Heart in the dirt. Not knowing what to do with the award, Smuckers’ owners, Tom Unterwagner and Steve Jankousky, held on to it for a decade until they discovered the Vermont-based nonprofit, Purple Hearts Reunited.