Over the last couple of decades — with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — there’s been a lot of attention given to military dogs who've have been trained to become top-notch canine soldiers.
At the Movies . . .
Just this past summer, the movie ‘Megan Leavey,’ received high praise from movie-goers and critics regarding a military combat dog and his female marine companion who both served on the battlefields in the Middle East. [For more on that heart-warming relationship and subsequent reunion that occurred when they returned home, see my previous blog post: Top Dogs: K-9 & Marine Find Purpose On Battlefield.]
HBO released the first trailer for “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend” which premieres on Veterans Day, November 13, 2017. The film produced by actor Channing Tatum follows the relationships between three soldiers and their canine companions. With stories from Army Rangers and Special Operations officers, they’re tributes to the dogs who helped their human trainers return home safely. Away from the battlefield, the process of becoming one of these elite military dogs is just as selective as the process that picks the human complement of the forces they join.
Hanging up her Sniffer
But are these all these well-trained military warriors the best fit for engaging in war? Might some just not be cut out for this challenging and highly perilous type of work?
It appears that is the case. In fact, just this past October, the CIA fired one of its own. One sniffer-in-training named Lulu made it clear that being an explosive detection KP was not for her. In a formal CIA press release, the military actually discharged this pup from her service to the country.
In an October 18th tweet, the Central Intelligence Agency tweeted: “We’re sad to announce that a few weeks into training, Lulu began to show signs that she wasn’t interested in detecting explosive odors.”
Temporary or Permanent Discharge?
Sometimes, it’s not readily known whether dogs like Lulu are just having a bad day, or they are truly disinterested in a certain line of work? In the CIA's press announcement, it was noted that there is a multitude of psychological reasons why a trainee like Lulu might need more time for acclimation or that they're no long the 'right stuff.'
“Sometimes the dog needs a little break, and sometimes it’s a minor medical condition like a food allergy requiring switching to a different kibble. After a few days, the trainers work the pup through whatever issue has arisen, and the dog is back eagerly and happily ready to continue training.”
However, in the weeks that followed with Lulu, it became more and more obvious that the issue wasn’t a temporary set-back, and that Lulu need to be dropped from the program altogether.
Draft Dodging & Deferment?
Whether or not Lulu truly objected to war is a factor that cannot to diagnosed, even by the best veterinarian psychologists. But in essence, Lulu did dodge the draft, and as a result did receive a deferment of sorts.
No matter, it's important to note that a lot of consideration was given Lulu after the CIA made their determination. She was not just sent to an animal shelter.
Instead, the CIA has policy in place for situations like this that is compassionate. It states: “when a dog is dropped or retires from our program, the handler or handler’s family is given the chance to adopt them.”
In Lulu’s case, she was immediately adopted by her loving handler, who had the chance to work with her during her imprint training. Today, we’re happy to announce she is enjoying her post-military career “playing with his kids, sniffing out rabbits and squirrels in the backyard, and eating meals and snacks out of a dog dish.”
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion."
In Lulu’s case, her ‘pacifist’ behavior might be a clarion call for both man and beast that war is not always the answer — that just being ‘man’s best friend’ is as much a highly valued job as going into battle to fight for one's country. Your thoughts, readers?
Primary Source: CIA relieves dog of her military duties