It is with GREAT JOY and DELIGHT we are announcing that MWD Benny B-163 is finally all ours! We picked him up at the Military Dog Working Facility at Langley AFB on the afternoon of January 4, 2008!
I was SO excited that it was hard being "dignified" around all of the MWD handlers...but I actually think my enthusiasm might have brought a smile or two to even their serious faces! They are always glad when a good dog gets a "happily ever after" home!
I am attaching some pics of the exciting event. Benny is 10 years old and a drop dead gorgeous German Shepherd Dog! In addition to his handsomeness, he is just a wonderful personality! The first day, he really wasn't too sure what to make of all the hugs and caresses...drawing back just a little when I would put my arms around him. Since that first night, however, he actually leans into me when I go to hug him! I guess he figures now, since he is "retired", he might have a little time for some of that "affection-stuff"!
He has been wonderful from the start...extremely adaptable and flexible to all the "new" things happening in his life! He made his first trip to "PetSmart" in Williamsburg, VA on Saturday, 5 January 2008. From life in the kennel, and FEW baths...Benny...although well-groomed...was rather STINKY...so we made an appointment for a nice deodorizing bath and grooming. Benny was wonderful for the groomer and came out looking and smelling GREAT!
Afterward, we needed to make a few purchases. Mike and I weren't too sure how he'd do with the other dogs, but Benny was AMAZING!! He was very obedient to me even though very excited, and his tail never stopped wagging each time he would meet a new friend! His first acquaintance was a GIGANTIC Newfoundland...she towered over Benny in stature! Benny seemed not to mind...large or small...he was friendly to all. He was receptive to strangers, too. As we made our way through the store, many stopped to ask if they could pet him. I made the proper intros and Benny greeted them. They were amazed and delighted to find out he was a retired MWD!
We got home on Saturday evening, and Benny was “welcomed” by our cat, Simba. Simba let him know immediately that this was HIS house and MAYBE he would allow Benny to live here with us! Benny, tail wagging, tolerated a declawed head-thrashing from Simba. The cat looked like a professional boxer and Benny's head was the punching bag! Mike and I couldn't stop laughing!! One bite could have ended the cat torture...but Benny was the model of patience. Half an hour later, they were sniffing noses and have gotten along famously ever since. On Benny’s second night home, they even snoozed together on Benny's dog bed! Now, Simba noisily meows to get Benny’s attention and lavishes him with his kitty caresses every time Benny lays down!
Although, Benny spent his whole life in a kennel, SO FAR he has NOT had even ONE accident in the house! Such a good boy! Mike and I are looking forward to all the days Benny will be with us. We hope they will be many!
As my husband, Mike was driving us home from VA, I was reading Benny's medical records. Two entries in particular stood out:
In October 2007, Benny was declared "excess". When I came upon the November 29th entry in his file, the handwritten entry read:
"Euthanasia and Necropsy to be scheduled for December 2007 or January 2008"
On November 28th, Mike said we could adopt a retiring MWD!! On November 29th, I called Lackland AFB and began the process! After calling more than twenty bases/posts that had MWD Facilities, I located Benny at Langley AFB! We are so grateful that God worked out the timing the way He did! Benny, Simba, Mike and I are all blessed to have each other!
I hope this finds you well, and that good things are happening in your life! Thanks for letting me share our exciting news!
God bless you!
Debbie & Mike
Debbie Kandoll has put together information ( from her own experience ) for anyone who would like to adopt a retired Military Working Dog.
Contacts, Phone Numbers, etc. Click on Benny below for that information.
Helping a different kind of vet - Kandolls adopt War Dog Benny
28 February 2008 – By Sarah A. Wise • NL Staff Writer
Most pet owners think their animal is special in some way. Maybe it’s their pup’s talent for fetching, or their cat’s ability to entertain itself for hours.
But what makes Debbie Kandoll’s dog Benny special is a truly unique thing indeed: Benny is a retired member of the United States military.
Debbie and her husband Mike, who live in the Pikeville area, adopted the German Shepherd earlier this year. Benny came to the Kandolls through a program that allows civilians to adopt military war dogs once they retire.
Though Benny wasn’t adopted until January of this year, Debbie said adopting a military war dog had been on her mind for several years.
She said she first heard of the program around the time it began. Though dogs had been assisting the military for decades, it wasn’t until President Bill Clinton signed a bill approving their adoption in 2000 that any of those dogs had a life beyond their service. Prior to that bill, once their service had ended, military war dogs were declared excess equipment by the military and euthanized.
Since then, Debbie had been thinking about adopting one of the dogs, but her husband wasn’t always sold on the idea.
“I grew up with animals in the house,” she said. “He grew up on a farm, where the animals always stayed outside, and didn’t like the idea of animals in the house.”
However, after Mike returned from a deployment to Iraq, Debbie said she told him if he was deployed again, she wanted to adopt a dog to keep her company while he was gone.
When things began to look like he wouldn’t be deployed again, Debbie said she began thinking about getting horses. It was then that her husband brought the idea of adopting a military war dog back to the table.
“Sometimes I say that he agreed to get the dog so I wouldn’t get horses,” she joked.
It was November 28 of last year that Mike agreed to adopt the dog, and Debbie began searching the next day. But the process, she found, is not as simple as one would think.
She had been directed to contact Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which is where the military war dog program is based. However, she discovered through contacting the base that its more effective to contact local military bases that have a military war dog program, because they prefer to adopt dogs to local people.
After months of calling and checking, Debbie finally located Benny at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Once she adopted Benny, Debbie said she noticed an eerie coincidence that affirms her faith that God had a hand in bringing Benny to her. Benny had been declared excess by the military on November 29, the same day Debbie began her search. And though it took her a while to get connected with him, Debbie said that her adoption of Benny literally saved his life – he was on the schedule to be euthanized.
Debbie and her husband drove up to Virginia to pick up Benny on January 4. At first, the excitement was mingled with anxiety about how Benny, who had spent his entire life in a kennel, would adopt to the myriad of new situations before him.
But Benny has adjusted quite well. He loves children, new people, and other animals, which is fortunate for the Kandolls’ cat Simba who ruled the roost before Benny’s arrival.
Debbie explained that when they first got Benny, he was not a mean-spirited animal, but he was very restrained.
“Because of his training, he was very restrained,” she said. “He was like a robot-dog for the first few weeks. But as he got more comfortable, his personality began to shine through.”
Benny’s military career was ended due to a slight problem with his leg, which had been aggravated from standing on his hind legs to sniff for drugs. The problem doesn’t hinder Benny on a day-to-day basis, and Debbie said it has actually improved since adoption. Leg spasms have ceased since Benny adjusted to sleeping on soft cushions rather than concrete floors.
Overall, Debbie said she is overjoyed by the new addition to her family. But her adoption of Benny brought her more than a furry friend. She feels that her experience with the process has given her a chance to spread the word about these dogs.
Too many are still euthanized because they can’t find homes, she said. And Debbie feels that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about how to go about adopting an animal like Benny.
So the former teacher and Air Force Reservist spends her days working with Benny and municipal organizations to have an open discussion about adopting animals, and the many benefits of doing so.
“I just want to let people know that anyone who wants to make a difference in just one life can do so,” she said.
Debbie has compiled a wealth of information about the process on the Internet, and is also willing to speak and work with anyone interested in adopting a war dog. She is also assisting with a presentation about war dogs at the 2008 Memorial Day event in Pikeville.
In addition to serving as an ambassador for the program, Benny volunteers as a therapy dog, and will soon be completely licensed. Earlier this month, he went with Seymour Johnson airmen to visit disabled veterans.
“He was a real charmer,” said Debbie, noting that as he met the patients, he would offer his paw for a handshake.
She added that, even amongst the military personnel she encountered at Seymour Johnson, there was a lot of misinformation about how to adopt one of the dogs.
“I had people asking me if I had to fill out a massive application, which I didn’t,” she said. “That just shows you how much misinformation is out there, and I want to do what I can to help change that.”
Visit http://www.uswardogs.org/new_page_5.htm for more information. For an outline of the adoption process, click on the small picture of Benny.
Benny was declared “excess” by the military and scheduled to be euthanized by January, according to his military medical records.
Today, Benny — a spry German shepherd — is anything but excess to Debbie Kandoll, who found him during a determined search to adopt a retired military working dog.
Even at the advanced dog age of 10, with degenerative bone disease, Benny has become an integral part of the Kandoll family since he was adopted from Langley Air Force Base, Va., on Jan. 4.
Kandoll, the wife of an Air Force Reserve officer currently on active duty, wants to get the word out to other military families and civilians that retired dogs are available for adoption at military working dog facilities across the country, as are some younger dogs who may have washed out of the program.
She has launched a Web site that includes phone numbers for 125 military working dog facilities.
The idea of supporting the troops, said Kandoll, who lives near Goldsboro, N.C., “should apply to all veterans, not just the human ones.”
Kandoll said she thought at first that she could adopt retired dogs only through the Defense Military Working Dog School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
“People should check with regional facilities to see what is available,” she said.
As for Benny, he’s thriving and his mobility has improved, she said — partly because he now gets to sleep on comfy pillows instead of concrete.
Although Benny is no longer on military patrols and sniffing for drugs, he is anything but retired. He visits hospitals, including the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Durham, N.C., as a certified therapy dog.
Kandoll and Benny make appearances at local events to raise awareness and encourage more civilians to adopt retired military working dogs.
Last year, 360 retired military working dogs were adopted or transferred to law enforcement agencies, according to officials at the Defense Military Working Dog School, with the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland.
Of those, 103 were transferred to law enforcement agencies, 139 were adopted at Lackland and the remaining dogs were adopted elsewhere, many likely by former military working dog handlers.
Under a law passed in 2000, dogs declared “excess” by the Defense Department can be adopted by law-enforcement agencies, prior military handlers and the general public.
“A lot of people still don’t know they can adopt dogs,” said Ron Aiello, founder of the U.S. War Dogs Association and a former military dog handler in Vietnam. “They don’t know dogs were used in Vietnam and that they are being used now. I’d like to see more veterans adopt military working dogs.”
Aiello said he works closely with Kandoll to provide information to people who want to adopt dogs. Interest has come from a number of Vietnam veteran dog handlers, many of whom had to leave their dogs behind in Vietnam.
He and Kandoll think adopting the dogs can be therapeutic for veterans.
To adopt a military working dog, prospective owners fill out a basic application with questions about their experience with dogs, other pets in the household, yard size, fencing and children in the household, officials said.
Once a match for a prospective adoption is made, an agreement is signed for the transfer of ownership, in which the new owner releases the Defense Department from liability.
The dogs are free, but the new owners must pay all costs, including transportation.
Officials at the Military Working Dog School said they have not had to euthanize any dogs for lack of someone to adopt them. In fact, they’ve had to establish a waiting list because there are not enough dogs to meet the high demand for them in the community and with law-enforcement agencies.
Kandoll’s dream is to build a Web site that connects people to working dogs. “These people at Lackland go above and beyond to place dogs in a home,” she said. “But it’s such an overwhelming job. The problem is that the word hasn’t gotten out that after the handlers and law enforcement, civilians can adopt the dogs.
“That’s why the kennel master had this smile in his voice when I called and asked if he had a dog available for adoption on the afternoon of Nov. 29,” she said.
“He said, ‘Yes, I do. ... His name is Benny, and he’s a great big goofball.’”
Kandoll had checked with Lackland officials earlier in November, but Benny was not in their database of dogs available for adoption, although he had been declared “excess” — ready to be retired — in October.
“If I hadn’t had the military connection, I would not have known how to contact these other facilities,” she said.
She and her husband drove to Langley Air Force Base on Jan. 4 and picked up Benny.
As part of the adoption process, Kandoll received Benny’s military medical records.
She quickly noticed that on Nov. 29, Benny officially had been scheduled for euthanasia in December or January. Nov. 29 was the same day Kandoll had made her 20th phone call — the one that led her to Benny.