Dogs were initially used in armed combat to carry ammunition and messages where a human messenger would be difficult or impossible, but as technology made communication and equipment delivery simpler tasks, the dog was no longer needed for these jobs. However, the war dog still has its place in the armed services. The duty of the war dog in contemporary warfare consists mainly of tracking enemies and sniffing out explosives.
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In the latter, they remain unmatched by any sensitive equipment and reign supreme as the primary method of bomb detection. With many terrorist cells using illegal drugs as a means of financing their operations, drug sniffing dogs have become a necessity, as well. Thanks in no small part to their intelligence and ability to adapt, the versatile Belgian Shepherds, and especially the Tervuren, are popular breeds for this kind of work. Sometimes being escorted to the roof of a building suspected to house enemy combatants, then sniffing out and the spot that corresponds to the room below, housing the enemy soldiers.
These dogs require as much training just to familiarize and desensitize them to the noisy helicopters and stress of air travel as they do to sniff out the enemies in the first place. These dogs are chosen and trained to be more physically and psychologically durable than Search And Rescue or even police Tervurens, thanks to the consistent volatility and unpredictability of their working atmosphere. The Tervurens have been found to capably endure their chaotic surroundings when introduced to and trained for the environment properly. They're preferred as bomb detectors thanks to their easy trainability, obedience and dedication to the task at hand. They are usually trained to sniff out an area and, as with drug and tracking dogs, sit down when they detect traces of gunpowder, fertilizer, gasoline or other explosive chemicals. Interestingly, a dog in the field can only be trained for one kind of work. When they find their target smell, they notify their human counterparts simply by sitting down. A dog trained to sniff out both drugs and bombs will sit down whenever they detect either scent, and this can only create confusion and uncertainty for the rest of the team who won't be sure whether or not to call in the bomb squad.
But beyond mere capability, and just as in Search And Rescue, trench combat in the first World War, police work and sports hunting, the service dog provides a warmth and companionship in times of isolation and uncertainty. Belgian Shepherds, not least of which being the Belgian Tervurens, are more than just skilled co-workers, they provide a familiarity in unfamiliar, unsettling situations, giving love and devotion and making their human companions feel at home, however briefly, when home is so far away.
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