Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Glory Hounds: America’s Fearless Warrior Dogs

Watch great stories about the heroism of man's best friend in this two-hour special from Animal Planet ...

Press Release:

Dogs, they are more than man’s best friend, especially in Afghanistan where they double up as partners and comrades in arms, and are often the best defense against the Taliban's weapon of choice - improvised explosive devices (IED) hidden randomly in the sand. We hear of and commend the tens of thousands of military service men and women who risk their lives in Afghanistan every day, but helping them are also approximately 600 courageous military working dogs (MWDs) whose sole purpose are to protect these soldiers and innocent civilians by sniffing out IEDs and tracking insurgents.

In the all new GLORY HOUNDS, a first-of-its-kind special in which Animal Planet's filmmakers and embedded camera crews were granted unprecedented access to uncover the stories of MWD teams in some of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan. GLORY HOUNDS premieres on Monday, May 13 at 10:00 p.m. andencores on Tuesday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Sunday, May 19 at midnight, 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

A two-hour special, GLORY HOUNDS takes viewers on-site active war zones and military training grounds, and features the real stories of these extraordinary canines that have been trained to do what no man or technology can. The military relies on the dogs' keen canine sense of smell to sniff out, locate and signal for explosive devices and to track down insurgents. As these MWDs are so adept at identifying these weapons before they explode, the dog teams have become one of the Taliban's prime targets. GLORY HOUNDS also shines a spotlight on the unbreakable emotional bonds that have been formed between man and dog. To their handlers, MWDs are not merely gear; they're weapons with hearts, minds and souls.

Permission to film GLORY HOUNDS in the active war zone required more than a year of discussions among producers and various branches of the United States (U.S.) military. Upon gaining access, camera teams filming the stories told in GLORY HOUNDS acquired specialised training before spending six weeks in Afghanistan embedded with these troops:

Lance Corporal Kent Ferrell and his MWD, Zora: Lance Cpl. Ferrell, 22, Maryland, grew up with a golden retriever that had a huge impact on his life. Now, as a MWD handler, he has developed a deep bond with his German shepherd, Zora, on the front lines; their partnership is pragmatic and personal; many lives depend on Zora's ability to sniff out IEDs before they explode, but to Lance Cpl. Ferrell, Zora is more than a defense weapon - she's his sister in arms. As a warrior dog, she's prepared to make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Corporal Drew Nyman and his MWD, Emily:  23 year-old Cpl. Nyman from Kansas wants to make it home to see his wife and newborn son, so it is imperative, as a MWD handler, to understand what his canine partner, Belgian Malinois Emily, is thinking at all times; any miscue could be the difference between life and death.  Cpl. Nyman and Emily are a combat-tracking team. Emily does not sniff out explosives; she smells humans, and she is looking for Taliban insurgents deep in the heart of enemy territory.  Can they handle the trauma of the battlefield?

Staff Sergeant Len Anderson and his MWD, Azza: Staff Sgt. Anderson, 29, from South Carolina, is training for his new role as kennel master with his MWD Azza, a veteran Belgian Malinois who detects bombs. In his role, Staff Sgt. Anderson could remain safely in the compound but he believes real leaders lead from the front, so he receives special permission for Azza and himself to join his troops on patrol outside the wire. Anderson and Azza get caught in the crossfire, and a GLORY HOUNDS cameraman becomes part of the story himself when he drops his camera to help save Staff Sgt. Anderson's life.  

Lance Corporal Durward Shaw and his MWD, Falko: Lance Cpl. Shaw, 21, of Texas, is Falko's first-ever MWD handler. Falko, a German Shepherd mix, is an attack dog and an explosive-device tracker. Both handler and dog are newbies in Afghanistan and are part of a security detail operating on Afghanistan's notorious Highway One, a critical supply artery that is also one of the deadliest roads in the country. Lance Cpl. Shaw is eager to put Falko's and his own abilities to the test, but every step outside the wire is a step into the unknown. He is determined to make it home to his wife and his newborn daughter, whom he has never met, so he relies on Falko to help him stay alive.

In GLORY HOUNDS, as with all wars, some dogs and handlers come home, some return forever changed, and some do not come home at all.

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