The Other Working Dogs of Iraq
Canis Familiaris, Fido, dog. Whatever you may call them, manâ€™s best friend is undeniably as much a part of Americana as football, cheeseburgers and the Fourth of July. They are an irreplaceable part of many American families. They go with us on vacation, hunting trips, long days at the beach and short walks around the neighborhood. We take them almost everywhere we go, even to war.
Dogs have been a part of the U.S. military since World War I. Since then, they have been on countless missions spanning the globe. Many toil daily in harmâ€™s way providing support that technology cannot. In Iraq, dogs perform a number of roles. Military working dogs sniff out explosives and look for people. They work on and off the leash. Recently, Soldiers from Delta Company 1-185th Armor (Combined Arms Battalion) transported an explosive detection dog named Jersey with her handler to Joint Base Balad. Other dogs perform a less tactical, but equally important job. Enter Boe.
Boe is a 4-year-old English Labrador Retriever. She lives on Contingency Operating Base Speicher and works as a therapy dog. Boe was donated by the Guide Dog Foundation/Americaâ€™s Vet Dogs. She accompanies Capt. Cecelia Najera, who is an occupational therapist with the 528th Medical Detachment at COB Speicher. Boe, who also holds the honorary rank of sergeant first class, makes the rounds visiting the different units that reside on the base.
â€œHer purpose is to bring Soldiers a reminder of home and offer a sense of comfort and well being,â€ said Najera.
The use of animals for therapeutic purposes goes as far back as 1699 when the English philosopher John Locke suggested the importance of children interacting with animals. The U.S. military began pushing for the use of therapy dogs in 1919 after success with World War I Soldiers. Today, therapy dogs fall under the category of Animal Assisted Therapy. Such animals are used for both physical and psychological medicine. Psychological benefi ts include the reduction of stress, anxiety and the overall improvement of morale. On the physical side, Animal Assisted Therapy increases range of motion, strength and balance and minimizes the need for preoperative medication. Today, it is not uncommon to see therapy animals roaming the halls nursing homes.
For Soldiers of 1-185th Ar. (CAB), Boe provides a warm distraction from everyday life at COB Speicher.
Pfc. Stephen Driedger enjoys the presence of Boe: â€œItâ€™s fun to have her around.â€
Cpl. Matt Brown, the D Co. 1-185th Ar. (CAB) ammunition non-commissioned officer in charge, finds her presence â€œvery relaxing.â€
â€œItâ€™s nice throwing her dog treats,â€ he added.
Sgt. 1st Class Frank Hatcher from D Co., 1-185th Ar. (CAB) Headquarters Platoon thinks therapy dogs are a great idea. â€œThey bring a little taste of home,â€ he said.
If the consensus at COB Speicher is any indication of how well dogs like Boe are received, Animal Assisted Therapy has a bright future in the Army.
Story by 1st Lt. Caleb Christians
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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 at 3:25 pm and is filed under Medicine, Military. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.