Helen’s jaw opened and closed around an arm of someone she perceived to be a “bad guy” Saturday at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville. Helen is one the military working dogs with the 550th Military Working Dog Detachment, 503rd Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade that is based on Fort Bragg.
She and canine Diana, who are dual purpose explosive and patrol dogs, are trained to attack with or without command, handlers said, but not trained to maul.
The canines demonstrated their capabilities Saturday for the museum’s K9 Veterans Day Fair.
“Being that there’s not a lot of canine specific memorial or appreciation days and events we jumped at the opportunity to participate and show some appreciation the dogs, and at the same time show off the capabilities of what our dogs can do,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Davis, who is with the 550th Military Working Dog Detachment.
Coinciding with K9 Veterans Day on Wednesday and a new exhibit at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, the fair was held at the museum and hosted by the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation that supports the museum, organizers said.
ed separation made emotional pain worse, as they arrived back home and felt as forsaken as their canine partners.
Mellick said he’s met another veteran who remembered a Belgian Malinois’ partnership with the SEAL Team Six that worked to apprehend Osama bin Laden.
‘“That dog will defend me until I die,’” Melick said of what the veteran told him.
Attending Saturday’s ceremony were Fayetteville residents Lissette and Hector Vargas and their 6-year-old Bulldog Diesel, who wore a red cape with the word “boss.”
Hector Vargas has been in the Army for 14 years and said he supports military canines and that there is a Veterans K9 Day.
“They should (have their own day) automatically,” he said. “Why not? They’re in there with us, too, so of course I support it 100 percent.”
Mileshko said Saturday’s event, which the Pelizzon Family Fund was a main sponsor of along with others, also provided the opportunity for members of the community to see military and police working dogs, visit dog-related vendors and adoption groups and to bring their own pets to the event.
Davis told those in attendance that military canines such as Helen and Diana go through their own basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which is a 120 day process.
Soldiers are trained as handlers for 12 weeks.
Sharing information about obedience training for the general public’s pets was James Voyatzis, who owns Cameron, North Carolina-based Sitzen K9.
Sitzen K9 has trained a few detection dogs and certified Americans with Disabilities Act complaint service dogs, but also teaches obedience, Voyatzis said.
Mileshko said there are plans to host another K9 Veterans Dog Day Fair next year.
“Who doesn’t love the excuse to bring their dog down to the ASOM,” she said, “and have a family fun-filled day.”