Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hercules, St. Bernard saved from death row repays the favor by defending hi home and chasing of an intruder.

from : Hercules was adopted by a couple in Hillsboro, Ohio, who saw the ailing 135-pound St. Bernard at the animal shelter and feared he would be euthanized.

Six hours later, the heroic canine repaid his new owners’ kindness when a dark-clothed thug broke into the couple’s house.

The man had cut the phone and cable lines running to the home of Rubert and Elizabeth Littler and had sneaked into their basement.

Mr Littler was taking Hercules outside for a walk when he began to growl, sensing the intruder that his master did not know was there.

Suddenly, Hercules pulled away from Mr Littler and broke through the closed screen door.

‘The guy must have just come up out of the basement when he heard me open the door. Hercules jumped off the back porch, over the stairwell, and I see this guy running toward the fence,’ he told the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro.

As the intruder ran, Hercules was close on his heels.

The burglar climbed over the fence and Hercules chomped down on one of the man’s ankles.

The thug managed to break himself free and fled.

Police suspect the man could be a serial burglar. A person matching his description broke into an occupied home the night before.

And the night after his encounter with Hercules, police believe the man might have stuck a third time.

Hercules took a difficult journey to the Littlers’ home. Two people hiking in the woods found him laying in the middle of a trail. He was so weak and mangy that they men thought he was a fallen log.

How he got into the woods is unclear, but he had been attacked by coyotes and was badly malnourished and dehydrated.

The hikers collected the dog and brought him back to to Hillsboro, where they nursed him back to health before taking him to the local animal shelter.

That is where the Littlers met him.

‘Originally, we adopted him because we didn’t want him to be euthanized. We thought we’d get him back up and going and see if we couldn’t get him a new home or some rescue group to take him,’ Mr Littler said. ‘But now we don’t know what we’re going to do. I think he’s more or less earned his right to stay.’

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The Top Secret Dog who Hunted Down The Most Wanted Terrorist in History.

The identities of all 80 members of the American commando team who thundered into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden are the subject of intense speculation, but perhaps none more so than the only member with four legs.

Little is known about what may be the nation’s most courageous dog. Even its breed is the subject of great interest, although it was most likely a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, military sources say. But its use in the raid reflects the military’s growing dependence on dogs in wars in which improvised explosive devices have caused two-thirds of all casualties. Dogs have proved far better than people or machines at quickly finding bombs.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, said last year that the military needed more dogs. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said.

Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, said the dog on the raid could have checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed door handles to see if they were booby-trapped.

And given that Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a narrow, dark hole beneath a mud shack in Iraq, the Seal team might have brought the dog in case Bin Laden had built a secret room into his compound.

“Dogs are very good at detecting people inside of a building,” Major Roberts said.

Another use may have been to catch anyone escaping the compound in the first moments of the raid. A shepherd or a Malinois runs twice as fast as a human.

Tech Sgt. Kelly A. Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, called dogs ideal for getting someone who is running away without having to shoot them. “When the dogs go after a suspect, they’re trained to bite and hold them,” Sergeant Mylott said.

Some dogs are big enough that, when they leap on a suspect, the person tends to drop to the ground, Sergeant Mylott said. Others bite arms or legs. “Different dogs do different things,” she said. “But whatever they do, it’s very difficult for that person to go any further.”

Finally, dogs can be used to pacify an unruly group of people — particularly in the Middle East. “There is a cultural aversion to dogs in some of these countries, where few of them are used as pets,” Major Roberts said. “Dogs can be very intimidating in that situation.”

Sergeant Mylott said that dogs got people’s attention in ways that weapons sometimes did not. “Dogs can be an amazing psychological deterrent,” she said.

There are 600 dogs serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that number is expected to grow substantially over the next year, Ensign Brynn Olson of the United States Central Command said. Particularly popular with the troops are the growing number of Labrador retrievers who wander off-leash 100 yards or more in front of patrols to ensure the safety of the route. A Silver Star, one of the Navy’s highest awards, was awarded posthumously in 2009 to a dog named Remco after he charged an insurgent’s hide-out in Afghanistan.

The training of dogs in Navy Seal teams and other Special Operations units is shrouded in secrecy. Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman for United States Special Operations Command, said the dogs’ primary functions “are finding explosives and conducting searches and patrols.”

“Dogs are relied upon,” he continued, “to provide early warning for potential hazards, many times, saving the lives of the Special Operations Forces with whom they operate.”

Last year, the Seals bought four waterproof tactical vests for their dogs that featured infrared and night-vision cameras so that handlers — holding a three-inch monitor from as far as 1,000 yards away — could immediately see what the dogs were seeing. The vests, which come in coyote tan and camouflage, let handlers communicate with the dogs with a speaker, and the four together cost more than $86,000. Navy Seal teams have trained to parachute from great heights and deploy out of helicopters with dogs.

The military uses a variety of breeds, but by far the most common are the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, which “have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition,” according to a fact sheet from the military working dog unit.

Suzanne Belger, president of the American Belgian Malinois Club, said she was hoping the dog was one of her breed “and that it did its job and came home safe.” But Laura Gilbert, corresponding secretary for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, said she was sure the dog was her breed “because we’re the best!”
A version of this article appeared in print on May 5, 2011, on page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: To Serve and Protect, and Sniff Out Trouble, an International Dog of Mystery.

Vittles the Berlin Airlift Dog 130 Missions

Air Dog
Vittles, the only dog to log more than 130 missions during the Berlin airlift, proved also to be a great morale booster during the allied relief effort.
By Don Vaughan

Lt. Clarence “Russ” Steber, a former Air Force pilot, may hold the record for the most missions flown during the Berlin airlift, but it’s his boxer, Vittles, that most people remember.* And with good reason. Vittles was the only dog to log more than 130 missions from Erding, Germany, to Berlin and back. He even had his own parachute, on orders from Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay.

Steber, who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying a record 415 missions during the 318-day allied relief effort to West Berlin, bought Vittles from a German friend when the dog was 1 year old.

But after I got him, I realized I didn’t have any place to leave him, Steber recalls. I couldn’t leave him in the bachelor officers’ quarters all by himself because sometimes I would be gone for two or three days at a time. So I started taking him in the plane with me.

Vittles quickly was adopted by Steber’s fellow pilots, who came to adore the affectionate pooch. If I had to take off without him for some reason, Vittles would get aboard another plane, and the crew would take care of him until we ran into each other again, says Steber, 86, of Melbourne, Fla. Vittles flew a total of 131 missions with me and many more missions with other pilots that were not recorded.

One day, Steber was instructed to see LeMay, who commanded the airlift at the time. I thought, “Oh boy, I’m in trouble now,”Steber recalls with a laugh. But much to Steber’s relief, LeMay wasn’t upset just concerned.

“Are you the pilot who owns the dog that’s flying in our planes to Berlin?” LeMay asked Steber.

“Yes, sir,” Steber replied.

“He’s flying without a parachute?” LeMay asked.

“Yes, sir,” Steber said. “Vittles doesn”t have a parachute.”

“That dog is the greatest morale builder to my pilots and crew than anything I can think of, so I want a parachute made for him,” LeMay said.

On the general’s orders, Vittles was outfitted with a special harness and parachute that attached to Steber’s chute via a tether. “If I bailed out with him, my chute would open first and pull the rip cord on Vittles’ chute,” Steber explains.
“That dog is the greatest morale builder to my pilots and crew than anything I can think of, so I want a parachute made for him.”

Gen. Curtis LeMay, USAF

Vittles’ parachute is the only one ever made by the Air Force for a dog now is on display as part of the Berlin Airlift Exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. “Throughout the history of the Air Force, animal mascots have provided unit identity and made valuable contributions to esprit de corps, says Senior Curator Terry Aitken. “The parachute allows us to tell the story of the Berlin Airlift’s mascot and the special bonds between Vittles and the pilots that he flew with as a “crew dog.” It’s a wonderful story and already a special hit with our visitors.

Vittles never had to use his parachute but Steber wasn’t so lucky. During one harrowing mission, in which Vittles did not participate, Steber lost his engines and had to bail out at a low altitude over Soviet territory. The landing knocked him unconscious, and he awoke to find himself in Soviet custody.

The Soviets interrogated Steber for several days, but all he would tell them was his name, rank, and serial number. “I was a young American, and I gave them a hard time,” he says. “Everywhere I went, they had a bust of Stalin on the desk and a picture of Stalin on the wall. One day I got tired of their questions, so I reached over and grabbed a bust of Stalin and pulled it toward me. “Who’s this?” I asked the interpreter. “Napoleon?

That insolent question earned Steber a beating at the hands of his angry captors. “It turns out that [everyone else in the room] could speak English and understand it too,” he recalls with a chuckle. Steber eventually was released and allowed to return to Erding, where he continued flying missions to Berlin.

Even though Vittles never had to bail out during a mission, he was aboard when Steber made a few hard landings. During one mission, the hydraulic pump on Steber’s C-47 burst and caught fire, forcing him to land with no flaps or power other than engines. “We crashed at the end of the field and struck an MP building, Steber says. Luckily, none of the crew including Vittles was injured.

Another time, Steber’s C-47, which he later learned had been overloaded, crashed at the end of a runway in Berlin, but again no one was hurt. And in a third hair-raising incident, Steber was forced to land with zero visibility because of fog.

“I was flying blind,” he recalls. “So using the ground control approach, I touched down on the runway as best I could. I couldn’t see a darned thing, but I kept hearing a blump, blump, blump noise. I got the plane stopped and we found that I was a little bit off the runway and had run over the runway lights.”

Between missions, Vittles was just part of the gang. “Everyone loved him because he brought a smile to their faces, Steber says. “The other guys enjoyed taking Vittles into the officer’s club and giving him pans of beer. Sometimes he got so drunk that I had to carry him home.

Vittles became a celebrity at home and abroad. In fact, his popularity was such that he became known as “the world’s most photographed dog. His picture appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as in the comics. In one cartoon, Vittles is sitting at a table in the officer’s club with a fork and knife in his paws. The chief cook is behind him, yelling: “I don’t care how many missions he’s got, he’s not eating in my dining room!”

When the Soviet blockade of Berlin ended in 1949, Steber and Vittles were sent to Biggs AFB, Texas. At the age of 6, Vittles contracted heart worms from a mosquito bite and fell ill. LeMay, upon hearing the news, arranged for a veterinarian to care for the dog, but nothing could be done. When Vittles died, the news was reported on the front pages of the El Paso Times and the Air Force Times, as well as on the local television news. The beloved mascot of all who participated in the Berlin airlift was buried on the grounds of Biggs AFB.

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