With military working dogs often being credited with saving the lives of their handlers and the troops they are charged with protecting, American Humane hosted the Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage Awards ceremony on Wednesday to recognize some of the four-legged heroes.
Award presenter Marine Corps Col. Zachary White told IJR it’s an “incredible thing” to see military working dogs getting recognized for their life-saving work.
“The services they provide our service members and providing protection for them, helping them complete their mission, it’s an invaluable service,” he said.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane President and CEO, said it’s not only important to recognize what the dogs do while they’re deployed, but also how they help service members cope with the traumatic experiences they face once they get home.
Here are the four military dogs that were given the nation’s highest award for K-9s.
Summer is a seven-year-old Labrador Retriever, who was an Explosives Specialized Search Dog with the U.S. Marines Corps. During her time in the military, Summer conducted patrols, finding numerous weapon caches and improvised explosive devices in the process.
Since retiring from the Marines, Summer works as a TSA K-9 for the Amtrak Police Department in Washington, D.C., with her partner, retired U.S. Air Force Sergeant Micah Jones.
Jag is a 12-year-old Labrador Retriever. He was paired with Army Sergeant Dennis Dow on the first day of Specialized Search Dog (SSD) training. They both deployed to Afghanistan and Germany, where Jag was tasked with finding explosive devices on hundreds of missions. On their first mission together, Jag found hidden artillery rounds.
After retiring from the military, he was adopted by Dow and they volunteer at their local fire department, where Jag serves as a comfort dog to victims of fires and other tragic incidents.
Taba is a nine-year-old Dutch Shepherd who was an Army Special Forces Multi-Purpose Canine. During her two years of service, she had participated in multiple raids while deployed to Afghanistan.
After leaving the service, Taba was adopted by a former K-9 police dog handler and his family. Unfortunately, a previous injury in her rear leg began to flare up, eventually requiring amputation. Fortunately, the surgery was successful and she is now free of pain.
Taker is a 12-year-old Labrador Retriever who had served as an explosives-detection dog in the Marine Corps. Taker has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he looked for improvised explosive devices.
Taker retired from Marines in 2012 and was adopted by his former handler, retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Kevin Zuniga. Taker is now Zuniga’s service dog, helping with his owner’s post-traumatic stress.
These are very good doggos that very much earned their awards.