According to mental health research, having a pet as a part of your family can help reduce stress, anxiety, decrease loneliness, and can provide unconditional love and companionship. So there’s no question that having a dog is great for your mental health and a wonderful way to ease the strain of big difficult events like moving. Not to mention everyday stresses. And when considering a dog, you’ll likely want one that’s well trained, good with people, and has a reputation for loyalty and obedience.
With that in mind, why not adopt a dog that has all those features guaranteed, plus the added pedigree of being a bonafide military veteran? Whether you’re contemplating your family’s first pet or another addition to your home’s flock of furry members, allow us to convince you why you should adopt a retired military dog.
Retired Military Dogs
Often abbreviated to MWD’s, military working dogs have served alongside American troops all over the world for over 200 years. And the history of dogs used by armies goes back thousands of years. Today, MWD’s are in every branch of the US military doing everything from law enforcement to bomb detection. The most common breeds are Belgian Malinois, Dutch and German shepherds, and certain retrievers (generally trained for odor detection based jobs). Each dog, goes through their extensive training at the Lackland Air Force Base section of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
Between their training and years of service, some MWD’s are at least 10 years old by the time they retire. Others leave the service for different reasons because they’re not suited to work in the field. And around 90% of all retired military dogs end up getting adopted by one of their handlers, which makes sense given how closely they work together. It’s also just about the sweetest thing we can think of. But the remainder of these dogs deserve good, loving forever homes of their own.
Why You Should Adopt a Military Dog?
Well, there are several identifiable and worthwhile ways a retired MWD makes a wonderful addition to your household.
- The most obvious reason you should consider a former MWD for your next pet is one we’ve already mentioned: they deserve a good home with lots of love.
- Whether they left the training program as young pups or gave a full decade in military service, they’re hardworking animals who need care and affection.
- They are extremely well trained animals of great benefit to highly attentive owners.
- They’re free. This is probably of least concern to you true animal lovers out there, but it’s still a plus.
How Can I Adopt a Retired Military Dog?
Bringing a former military dog into your home is a relatively lengthy process, as far as pet adoptions go. Depending on availability, it can take up to two years. There are several steps you must take so both you and the adoption agency are sure of your abilities to care for a retired military dog.
Just loving dogs is not enough to qualify for adopting a military dog. Before you even consider starting the process, know that you’ll need to meet certain conditions to apply:
- No children under age 5 in your home.
- A large yard with a minimum 6-foot fence. Even older MWD’s are large and fairly athletic, so they’ll need a large, contained space to stay active and happy.
- Two references willing to attest to your suitability.
- No more than 3 other dogs living in your home.
- Have a veterinarian selected and willing to render their services as your dog’s medical provider.
Military Dog Adoption Program
If you meet all these qualifications, contact the Military Working Dog Adoptions Program of the 37th Training Wing at Lackland AFB. They’ll process your application and help find the right retired military dog for you, either from their facility or another military kennel at a base closer to you. If you need a little extra guidance getting through the process of military dog rescue, there are some great organizations out there like Mission K9 and Saveavet.org that specialize in helping people through the process of retired military dog adoption.
We know that the stipulations and wait process may sound like a lot of work to go through for a new pet. But these animals are so much more than just pets. They’re veterans, perfectly trained, and looking for a home full of love and attention. You’d be hard pressed to find a better behaved or more deserving animal than a former MWD. Adding one to your home will not just be a great kindness to a brave animal, but a great way to boost your own mental health and get you through the stressful times. After all, that’s one of the many great things that pets do. So go on, call the good folks at Lackland and start the process of adopting a retired military dog. It’s a wonderful way to thank them for their fur-vice.