It's a dogs-life

Every American air base in Vietnam used Sentry-Dogs to secure the base at night. Typically, the night was the V.C. domain. At Phu Cat AB, our northwest and north-side were always being prob for weaknesses. VC would hide for days in the bush just beyond the perimeter fences, out in front of both towers and bunkers. But, and this a big but, they couldn’t hide from the noses or the ears of one of our trained Sentry Dogs.


Most nights, dogs alerted on something? A handler soon recognized the different alerts on humans as compared to other creatures. Rats, big cats, small dogs from the nearby village and snakes. Snakes falling out of trees! It happened. We had several dogs bitten by cobras and survive. Night time is huntin’ time for large snakes. Because handlers left open c-rations-garbage on their Kilo post, rats showed up and feasted. Snakes love rats and we made sure there was plenty of food for both rats and snakes. Danger, danger, is waiting on you to step-on. But, if your dog suddenly bolted, making a sharp u-turn, that mighty-nose has caught the scent of a snake, if followed and the handler can keep up, well you, Noble Canine has just saved your ass and a lot of pain and suffering from a potential serious bite by COBRA. Just one of the bad-ass snakes in all of SEA. We fought snakes and the Cong the same way, with death. Both acted about the same, nasty buggers.

I wrote “Noble Canine”, “Search for The Edge”, published and made public on Jan. 05, 2019, Fifty years to the day when I first arrived at Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. It tells the story of young men and highly trained German Shepherd working as teams, and the strong bonding that grew between human and animalKind.


Every American air base in Vietnam used Sentry-Dogs to secure the base at night. Typically, the night was the V.C. domain. At Phu Cat AB, our northwest and north-side were always being prob for weaknesses. V.C. would hide for days in the bush just beyond the perimeter fences, out in front of both towers and bunkers. But, and this a big but, they couldn’t hide from the noses and the ears of one of sixty-two trained Sentry Dogs Teams.


Most nights dogs alerted on something? A handler soon recognized the different alerts on humans as compared to other creatures. Rats, big cats, small dogs from the nearby village and snakes. We had several dogs bitten by cobras and survive. Night time is huntin’ time for large snakes. Because handlers left open c-rations-garbage on their Kilo post, rats showed up and feasted. Snake love rats and we made sure there was plenty of food for both rats and snakes. Danger, is waiting on you to step-on. But if your dog suddenly bolted, making a sharp u-turn, that mighty-nose has caught the scent of a snake, if followed and the handler can keep up, well you, Noble Canine has just saved your ass and a lot of pain and suffering from a potential serious bite by COBRA. Just one of the bad-ass snakes in all of SEA. We fought snakes and the Cong the same way, with death. Both acted about the same, nasty buggers.


Most handlers work the same Shepherd for a year. Myself, I had two dogs. In that one year I spent as a Sentry Dog Handler, I was leashed to a dog for 10-hour shifts for 360 nights. That’s 3600 hours of leash-time, all in the dark. Dog and handler bonded quickly. You and dog start communicating with each other.


This team of man and dog endured monsoon season. Ninety days of endless rain. This took the team to a higher level of bonding. I used my poncho to cover both me and my dog. Keeping the animal dry, sort-of. After an all-night of down-pours, the team is dead-tired, just beat. Most mornings I would brush and dry the dogs coat and put him to bed.


Stories like this are one of the reasons for writing “Noble Canine”. Another reason was the training we received and the instructor who trained us. But the most important reason for writing the book was to tell our story. The handlers and the dogs were both especially trained too secure a large air base and do it the pitch blackness. Scary! But we did anyway.


The few times our base was attacked was by ground, coming through the perimeter fences. I got my second German Shepherd after one of these ground assaults. When the handler got off the truck, locked and loaded his Car-15, completed his change-over and finally walking down onto his post and was immediately ambushed. The handler was severely wounded and sent home. Never knew if he even survived. The next night, we were back on duty, searching for the elusive enemy.


Another reason for the book, was to keep alive what it meant to handle such a highly effective animal. To see these magnificent animals in action, too be a part of what a German Shepherd is capable of doing is truly inspiring. A Sentry Dog can be totally fearless in the face of life-threatening work environment. I intend to bring “Noble Canine” to the big screen. The day I graduated from Sentry Dog School, finally done with training, I knew there was a story that would look fantastic on the big screen.

I give “Noble Canine,” “Search for the Edge”, to the Universe”! Enjoy.

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