By Bob Bryant
The average individual is seldom aware of the sacrifices that working dogs around the world make every day. They serve in the shadows, in the heat, humidity, and in the most dangerous places all for a pat on the head. A treat or toy is their only reward.
These special dogs that serve on the front lines in warfare, search for drugs, explosives, and capture dangerous individuals are primarily Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Czech Shepherds, and Dutch Shepherds. These breeds are chosen for their speed, strength, and ability to perform incredible nose work for search.
They work for our Military, Private Contractors, Law Enforcement, TSA, Border Patrol, Prisons and other entities, yet wherever they work, the scope of what they do is the same and they give tirelessly of themselves.
Their service can span up to 12 years and some working dogs can have as many as four handlers in their career. When they retire, it’s a given that they are wanted by those they worked beside for so long.
When these dogs retire it can be hard for the handlers to afford the cost of transportation home for their best friend and partners. Flights from places like Afghanistan can exceed $3000 and once home there is no “retirement” fund for veterinary care. It’s all on the handler to provide.
That’s where Mission K9 Rescue comes in. Since 2013 the Houston based organization has rescued almost 1000 working dogs, reunited over 600 with former handlers, and paid out over $1,000,000 in veterinary care!
You can feel the joy in their work and especially in the recent reunion in San Antonio, Tx of MWD Iskra and her handler, Jake. For those that wonder, “Iskra” is the Russian word for “Spark”.
Jake met Iskra in February 2016. He said it took them a few weeks to bond, but when they did they were inseparable! They were certified in three months and then went to Explosive Detection School as a team. After training the pair traveled and worked in New York, Jerusalem, and Sicily. Soon after, the pair was deployed to Iraq where they spent the balance of their time together in Baghdad. Jake said that Iskra worked tirelessly and gave him all the love in the world.
After coming home, Jake was reassigned and had to say goodbye to his best friend. He hoped one day to be able to adopt Iskra when she retired, to continue the bond they shared. His joy was made complete when he learned that she was ready to retire and that Mission K9 Rescue would be making the reunion possible.
The reunion photos are all you need to see the love and bond that these two partners share. We owe a debt of appreciation and gratitude to working dogs and the humans they serve.
About: Bob Bryant is the chief technology officer of Mission K9 Rescue, an animal welfare group dedicated solely to rescuing, reuniting, rehoming, repairing, and rehabilitating American working dogs. Learn more at www.MissionK9Rescue.org.