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By Staff Sgt. Scott Evans
Task Force Sinai
When Larry, a veteran military working dog began showing signs of severe illness, his handler Spc. Jordan Kawakami, of 89th Military Police Brigade of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri who is currently assigned to Task Force Sinai at North Camp, Sinai, Egypt knew something wasn’t right.
After an initial evaluation with medical professionals at North Camp, Larry was quickly flown to South Camp, the headquarters of Task Force Sinai, to receive a higher level of care at the veterinarian clinic from Task Force Sinai veterinarian, Maj Melissa North.
“(At North Camp), they did blood work and radiographs and there was nothing that indicated a serious problem. It was not until the next morning when we repeated radiographs and ultrasound that it was noticed the spleen had enlarged to the point where we knew he had to have surgery,” North said. “(Also), Larry’s tachycardia was up to three times what is considered a normal heart rate.”
Early diagnosis also showed Larry had other complications in need of address which had likely been a large cause of much of the constant vomiting he was experiencing.
“The radiographs that morning showed an enlarged spleen and alarming pattern of gas in his intestines,” North explained. “Once we were able to look at (and) recheck radiographs the morning after he was admitted for IV fluids and observation, we saw he needed surgery as soon as possible.”
North credited both the aviation and medical personnel with their professionalism and speedy coordination in potentially saving Larry’s life.
“The Aviation Company was able to react so quickly to the news of the MEDEVAC that we had Larry on the surgery table here at South Camp within four hours,” North said. “Several times, Larry displayed dangerous arrhythmias that needed to be addressed immediately and we were able to do that because of the incredible teamwork and support that we had. Any longer and he would have been at severe risk of death.”
Following his surgery, Larry was placed on 24-hour observation and evaluation while he recuperated.
“Larry was placed on multiple pain medications, anti-nausea medications, and anti-arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) medications,” North said.
A few days later, Larry was transported to Kuwait for the next echelon of care and follow-on monitoring.
“He (eventually) will be sent to the Dog Center in Germany, where he can spend time recovering, and they will make the decision as to whether he should be medically retired,” North said.
Although Larry’s continued service remains in question, all personnel involved agree that he is on the road to a full recovery.
“I literally could not have asked for a better outcome or a better set of Soldiers to work with,” North said. “Everything seemed to fall into place at the right time to be able to come to Larry’s aid - and he deserved it.”
The United States Army has long recognized the contributions and talents of dogs serving within their ranks.
“All MWD teams are force multipliers,” Staff Sgt. Jared Schultz, an MWD kennel master assigned to Military Working Dog Section, Task Force Sinai said. “They can be attached to any military team or squad and provide counter IED support while also being a deterrent and a means of less than lethal force.”
Larry has served as an MWD for nearly seven years and went through extensive training to prepare him for his duties throughout his long service. In his current service to the Multinational Force and Observers alone he has provided 573 hours of force protection including entry control point operations, mail sweeps, and flight and medical security.
“Training for MWDs is typically six to nine months at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, where they are trained on odor familiarization and all phases of controlled aggression to include building search and scout,” Schultz said. “They are put through a basic certification course at JBSA on all required odors and controlled aggression requirements before they can be sent out to DOD kennels.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION