KABUL COMPOUND, Afghanistan -- Staff Sgt. David Yepsen rewards his
military working dog, Dax, with a toy after Dax found an item Sergeant Yepsen
hid in a vehicle for training purposes. The two are the only Air Force canine team
in Afghanistan. They are deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom from
the 43rd Security Forces Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.
Heavy-duty boxes arrive at posts across the Middle East covered in cheery blue paw prints.
The military men and women know immediately that the Christmas presents inside are mostly not for them... but for their dogs.
Several hundred military dogs serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, manning (or perhaps dogging) checkpoints and sniffing for bombs, according to military publications. Like their human counterparts, they get killed and wounded.
But because the dogs are considered equipment, the military doesn't provide rope toys, dog beds or big bones to make their lives more enjoyable, said Amy Nichols, founder of Dogtopia Daycare & Spa. That's where her group steps in.
For the second year, volunteers from the company, which used to be called Happy Tails and has locations in Bethesda and Tysons Corner, packaged up hundreds of pounds of treats and toys and mailed them overseas.
"Making the dogs happy makes the troops happy," she said.
The effort has been so popular that the company has started its own charitable wing -- K-9 Support -- to collect donations.
"We'll continue to support military dogs until they all come home," Nichols said.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Brave dogs getting Chemainus treat for Christmas
Chemainiac Pam Pirie is playing Santa Claus to a pack of explosive-sniffing canines protecting Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
The owner of Bone-A-Fide Treats Gourmet Doggie Bakery and Boutique shipped a box of her specialty cookies Monday to the Canadian base at Kandahar where daughter, army Cpl. Jodi Pirie, is stationed.
Pirie just wants to reward the 16 hard-working mutts contracted through the American Canine Detection Services.
“I sent a box of 40 peanut butter, 40 liver, and 40 Chemainus famous cheesy chews and also a bag of mixed seconds, ones that I can’t really sell because they got a little overcooked or broken,” she says.
“Dogs don’t care what they look like as long as they taste good.
“With the cheesy chews, I’m putting a little bit of Chemainus into Afghanistan.”
Pirie first heard about the mine-sniffing dog detail when chatting on the Internet with colleagues in the Pet Industry Retail group.
“One person in PIR has a niece in Iraq where there’s an American group of dogs so I thought maybe I can help Canadian dogs in Afghanistan.
“I e-mailed Jodi and she talked to the people involved who said they’d love it.”
Pirie is requesting public donations to continue making and mailing doggie treats regularly to Kandahar even after postal charges take effect Jan. 15. Her cookies each cost about 50 cents to make.
“Right now I can send parcels there for free. For anyone with someone (family) deployed over there, the post office sends parcels to Belleville, Ont. then on to a military Hercules (airplane).
“After Jan. 15 I have to pay so I’d like to put a box or container in my shop where people can donate toward cookies going over.
“I’d like to get at least one more box under free postage after seeing when they receive this box and how they react to it.”
Monday’s parcel was mailed to Jodi with a forwarding note to the explosive-detection division in case her daughter’s away on patrol.
“I included cookie ingredients to see if the dogs prefer a particular treat. With specially trained dogs you can’t just give them things like this because they have special rules and regulations.”
Jodi, 26, was raised in Cowichan and sent to Kandahar airfield camp in November for duty in the army’s technical supply section.
She reports the dogs look like German shepherds.
“This will make people more involved and help our people and dogs over there.”
Pirie also plans to send the pooches cooling vests for summer use.
“Everyone pays attention to the people over there but these dogs are really on the front lines.”
She can be reached at 250-246-9908 or at her store at Address: 9744 Willow Street, Chemainus, British Columbia Canada V0R 1K0.
The dogs play a couple of roles - utmost and formost, they provide the security and a job of detecting bombs and explosives. Secondly, they provide morale for the soldiers during minimal downtime. Let's not forget ALL the troops.