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  • Writer's pictureCaméa Allen

Celebrating K9 Veterans Day

Every year on March 13th, the US celebrates K9 Veterans Day, a day to reflect on the valor, dedication, and sacrifices made by active-duty K9s. On this day, we honor the K9s that have passed, those who have retired, and those that remain on active duty. Military K9s play a very important role in our military, working alongside our military men and women. They keep our service members safe, often putting themselves in the literal or figurative line of fire for our freedom and in life-threatening conditions. Today, we're celebrating K9 Veterans Day because Yorktown and its environs have close ties to the US military. At Hearts at Home Pet Sitting, which is owned and operated by a military spouse whose service member has since retired, we strive to recognize military service members, K9s included, any chance we get!

Celebrating K9 Veterans Day: History of K9 Veterans Day

military dogs yorktown virginia

According to National Today, military working dogs date back to Ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago when the Egyptians started to bring dogs into battle with them.

Fast forward to 1942, the US Army (Hooah!) and, more specifically, Joe White, a Vietnam War veteran and K9 handler, established March 13th as K9 Veterans Day to commemorate the service of US military and working dogs.

According to Awareness Days, "March 13 was chosen because it marks the official establishment of the US Army K9 Corps in 1942." These dogs' important role in our military operations cannot be denied and should be celebrated, which is why we still honor these dogs in and out of combat each year on March 13th.

Celebrating K9 Veterans Day: The Roles of Military K9s

From search and rescue to tracking, explosives and drug detection, patrol and protection, military K9s are an invaluable asset to the United States Military.

One of the most noteworthy K9s of our time has to be Cairo, the military K9 that helped capture bin Laden. In the book, No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid, Cairo's partner, Will Chesney, a SEAL Team Operator, tells the tale of a once aloof K9 who graduated at the top of his class and possessed an unparallelled fearlessness and work ethic. According to an interview conducted by, Cairo "fearlessly jumped out of planes, fast-roped out of helicopters, sniffed roadside improvised explosive devices, and - literally in some cases - disarmed insurgents."

dog walking yorktown virginia
Radar enjoying his retirement in the US

Some military K9s aren't meant to fight insurgents or enforce the law, some serve as unit mascots, ensuring that military men and women have access to unconditional love and support while on deployment. Our friend, Isabel Alvarez Arata, Host of Covered in Pet Hair and journalist specializing in the pet industry, shared her life with a retired battalion mascot named Radar. Acquired by Isabel's husband at the end of his unit's deployment, Radar was a Batallion Mascot for an air defense unit in South Korea, "He was the coolest dog you could meet," said Isabel. The 11 lb Pomeranian Mix was confident, social, and a natural leader, much like those he served. Radar and others like him may not play as active a role in combat, but their contributions can be just as impactful. There really is no limit to the contributions these dogs are happy to make.

Celebrating K9 Veterans Day: The Needs of Military K9s

mission K9 dogs

The military takes excellent care of our K9s because they are considered assets. They are a huge investment for our military due to the quality of their lineage and all the training they undergo. Unfortunately, until only a few years ago, the military didn't have specific protocols in place for retired K9s. For this reason, many nonprofit organizations and dog rescues focus their efforts on finding the right homes and rehabilitation for retired K9s. We wrote a blog about some of our favorite K9 rescues here.

Adopting a retired K9 is not for everybody or every family but donating to these and other fabulous K9 rescues is a fantastic way to support some of our country's unsung heroes when they need it most.

dog walker yorktown

At Hearts at Home, we are wholeheartedly committed to our service members and military K9s on National K9 Veterans Day and beyond. Because of my personal ties to the Army, our local connection to military history, and our proximity to several military installations near Yorktown, meeting the needs of our military members' pets fills my heart.

Many of our clients are in some way tied to the military. At Hearts at Home we recognize that the military life can be challenging and therefore welcome you to contact us to discuss your pet care needs and how we may be of service.

We provide in-home dog walking and pet sitting services in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. If you are interested in registering with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here. Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more.

It is an honor to be a part of our clients' pet care team.

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