It is not unusual in times of war, or as a result of terrorism for army dogs to be injured or killed in the performance of their duties.
Many such heros die unsung, remembered only by their handlers, and those whose lives they saved. Probably Max was no different, yet another casualty of terrorism who was shot and killed by a terrorist who had already killed many innocent people. It was thought that this man had at last been cornered in a building. The soldiers believed that the man was inside it, and had sealed all the exits, but they had no proof that he was there. They were naturally desperate to capture the man, but they needed to know for sure that they had indeed cornered him. In such situations the army dogs are called in. They are sent into the building alone, and it is their native intelligence alone that will then seek out the enemy, and if possible distract or disarm him so that the soldiers are able to come in and make an arrest.
In Maxs case the terrorist had already proven himself to be an extremely dangerous and aggressive opponent. Max of course knew nothing of that, it was just a duty that he carried out with his usual enthusiasm and intelligence.
Max, was employed by the Israeli Border Patrol SWAT unit. He carried out his duties, found and endeavoured to capture or incapacitate the terrorist. He was shot dead.
As dog lovers we will no doubt ponder the question, why was he sent in to such a dangerous situation? Was his sacrifice worthwhile? The answer is that this is exactly what they are trained for. The training is arduous, and it takes a dog like Max a long time to reach the peak of competence and reliability demanded of such dogs. Their lives are never thrown away unnecessarily. As an army spokesman was heard to comment The dog did his job.
This is what they are trained for to go in first in order to assist the forces and prevent injury to humans. His death is a sad loss, but it saved many lives,
SWAT, like other elite units, uses the Malinois as its attack dogs. These dogs are trained to enter buildings in which suspects are believed to be hiding and attempt to attack the suspect and overpower him. Actions of this type may cost the dog its life, but whatever happens, the forces outside are able to confirm that an armed gunman is indeed inside the building. The suspect has no choice: if he refrains from attacking the dog, he will be captured by the dog and the forces will be able to enter the building. When the dog bursts into a building, the person will always pay attention to the dog and the soldiers can exploit the element of surprise and the attention concentrated on the dog, said a military spokesperson.
Max was four years old and had been trained for this mission since he was a puppy. He had served in the Border Patrol canine unit and was later transferred to the SWAT unit. By his courage Max had done two things, confirmed that the terrorist was cornered and, that he was in the very act of manufacturing more bombs. The soldiers now knew how to deal with the situation, and because Max did his duty with courage and devotion a great many lives were saved.
It is good to know the dog is never considered as any kind of sacrifice when it is sent in. Always the main intent is that the dog should capture the person they are send to find, and in most cases that is exactly what happens. These dogs are fast, agile, disciplined and determined. Max is only the second SWAT dog to have been killed over the last three years.
The military canine unit that has its own cemetery, but SWAT does not, so Max was buried beside his comrade within the grounds of the unit.
So why are we featuring Maxs story in Eurodogs? Two reasons it is a news item from overseas, and Maxs valour and that of dogs like him should never go unmentioned. Secondly the fact that Max was a Malinois, and as most of our readers will know, the Malinois is the smooth coated variety of Belgian Shepherd dog.
In the UK whenever we think of police and army dogs we tend to think in terms of the larger and more heavily built German Shepherd, and of course the German Shepherds are widely used for this purpose throughout the world. But there are also a great many countries throughout Europe who prefer to use the Malinois, and have found it ideally suited to that purpose. Others still who prefer the Beauceron. Only those who use them could truthfully tell us why one breed is preferred to another, or is perhaps better suited to work in a certain type of climate or enviroment. What is noteworthy is that we have yet to realise the potential of the Malinois in the UK, where it is very much a minority breed.
Secondly, for those of us who wish our dogs to be trained for Schutzhund or manwork, it s perhaps good for us to give serious thought to the ultimate purpose of such training, and perhaps the ultimate sacrifice that it might involve.
Guard Them With Your Life
Barr and her family live on a secluded farm in the hills of Jerusalem. They keep sheep and goats for milk and, produce specialized dairy products. The farm is situated on a nature reserve that caters to the avid hikers who frequent the area. Needless to say there is always a risk from predators in such a place, and although Barrs place is not connected to the main electric grid, they have a generator and manage quite nicely.
Situated in the vicinity of the Border, and living in a country that is almost always on war alert, it is necessary to attempt to guard their livestock, and thus their livelihood to the best of their ability. Other farms in this area and elsewhere along the borderland, have suffered great losses from theft. With this in mind and in order to protect the flock from predators, which come in both four and two footed varieties, the farm has kept several Maremma sheepdogs as flock guards as well as a few Border Collies that work with the herd, twelve dogs in total, and each one known, loved and valued. The were well aware that the thieves who frequent the region are always eager to liberate some mutton if the opportunity presents itself. But the barking of the dogs if strangers came too close had so far kept all safe. As a further precaution the flock were only allowed to graze on the adjacent grasslands for five hours a day. After their grazing period they were brought back to their pen for the remainder of the time.
On the night of July 8th, 2003, Barrs flock was safely tucked away in the pen as usual, and surrounded by the watchdogs. While Barr slept, the robbers made their strike. Showing a ruthless and callous disregard for both humans and livestock they spread bait soaked in deadly poison around the farm. In this cruel manner they were able to gain access to the flock, having succeeded in killing all but one of the dogs, and uncaring of the havoc and distress they had caused, they disappeared with half the flock.
The scene that greeted Barr the following morning was horrendous almost all her beloved dogs lay dead,only a scattering of sheep and goats remained in the pen. Her lifes work was in ruins. As if this were not bad enough, the victims of poisoning so often reach far beyond the intended victims, and a large number of wild animals from this supposed sanctuary, including foxes and hares lay dead and dying
Our readers will all feel for Barr and her family, and our hearts reach out to her. However, to give up and leave would be to give in to such villainy. Barr has not given up and is now searching for other dogs and livestock. When she gets the dogs her first and major task will be to teach the new dogs food refusal from any hand but hers.
The Israeli Herding Dog Club is trying to help Barr, as she labours under the further difficulty that she may not use dogs that will attack human beings in defence of the flock, this because her home is situated on a nature reserve, and her dogs must not harm the innocent hikers who frequent the area, but can only warn her if the robbers strike again.
Should she give up? Stop keeping livestock? Give up her dogs? Would you?
Who could truly say what they would do if they were faced with the same situation? Barr is one courageous lady, as she endeavours to live her life, and continue in the livelihood that she knows and loves. She can only hope and pray
that she will be allowed to, and to live her life one day at a time.