Over the last few years, I’ve spent a great deal of time researching military working dogs for my series, A Breed Apart. Though I've always been an animal lover, researching these dogs and their handlers developed within me a deep sense of respect and fascination. I could not watch enough videos or see enough demonstrations. You could say, I fell in love with MWDs (in fact, please do!).
Through that research, I learned that in 2001 a vital bill was signed into law by then-president, Bill Clinton. This law, nicknamed Robbie’s Law, allowed military working dogs (MWD) to be adopted out to domestic settings after extensive and multiple evaluations of their personality and behavior. In fact, in two of my novels, Trinity: Military Working Dog and Beowulf: Combat Explosives Detection Dog, the dogs were both retired.
When a dog is chosen to retire, generally a former handler is given the first chance to adopt the retiring dog, and then the military will, if the dog can continue working (for whatever reason), offer them to working dog situations (sheriffs departments, etc.).
However, the times when a dog is now adopted by a former handler, they are adopted to a family waiting on a very long adoptions list. Thanks to the hard work of MWD Cairo, who took part in the takedown of bin Laden, the demand for adoptable MWDs skyrocketed. The wait list is currently 12-18 months, depending on what an adopter is willing to take responsibility for (health issues).
My husband and I knew immediately, we’d want to adopt a four-legged hero once we were able. So, in April 2013, we put in our application. After installing a 6’ fence, we were at the top of the Lackland Air Force Base’s MWD adoption coordinator. We anxiously sat at home, waiting. . .waiting. . .waiting for the call.
Finally, that call came February 26, 2014. Though I was very sick and could hardly talk, I felt like I was flying. Lackland had a “very special dog” named Vvolt N629 He is a 5 year old Belgian Malinois. The very spelling of his name (with two first letters the same) indicated he’d been bred through the Depart of Defense’s Military Working Dog Breeding (MWD) Program there at Lackland. Vvolt was being retired because the demanding and rigorous life of an MWD was too much for his joints.
I kid you not—he walked in with an air of raw power. Intelligent, sleek, powerful, he was 80 pounds of raw, pulling power who has served and deployed in our country’s military, protecting not only our soldiers, but even the president and first lady! As some friends have said—we should salute this hero when he stalks into the room.
Vvolt has already become an integral part of our lives. He’s a wickedly-smart dog with a truckload of personality, but he’s also a bit of a goof and a lover. What an honor to provide for this four-legged hero! I have an very renewed and much stronger awe and respect of the military working dog community and these incredible military heroes--both the four-legged and the two-legged!
Ronie's latest release: Beowulf: Explosives Detection Dog is now available!!
While tension mounts between Timbrel and Tony, the team comes under fire after Beowulf gets a “hit.” When tragedy threatens Tony’s career and Timbrel’s courage, they must maneuver through an intricate plot and a mission like no other.