A Real Hero

TODAY'S BIG QUESTION: Why are these dogs good soldiers? - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor

This week, we have a new hero—Conan, a very good dog who chased down Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, in a raid over the weekend. Thanks to a photo the president tweeted, we know Conan—named for the comedian, not the barbarian—is a Belgian Malinois, one of the most common breeds used in military operations. One thing Conan has helped shed light on is the invaluable and often quite dangerous work of dogs in war.

The Belgian Malinois is known for being smart, fearless, loyal, and able to withstand the withering heat of the Middle East. The canines are often trained how to detect explosives, track people, and even parachute out of helicopters. Dogs can go where humans can’t, and they can take down the bad guys without killing them. They can detect the enemy up to 1,000 yards away, and they sniff out injured troops in hard-to-locate places.

Setting out in front of troops, combat canines and their handlers often lead the way into the most dangerous battlefields. We should all show a little gratitude.