The long holiday weekend starts tonight after final formation and there will...
Dogs That Wish to Kill Me
By Will “The Tree” Hill
This story begins in March of 2009, my first deployment to Baghdad, Iraq (Green Zone). I was a
First Lieutenant at the time and thought I was too awesome for my own good (I still think that as
I’m a Contracting Officer by trade and this deployment had me administering over a private
security contract. Part of the contractors services included dog handlers. Now, I love dogs; I
grew up with dogs. Not the kind of dogs that you can physically punt 30 yards because they are
the same size as a football, but large dogs…Labs, Collies, Golden Retrievers, Dobermans.
So our private security contractor decides to conduct a training exercise and asks for volunteers.
Now this is where it gets vindictive.
You see, in my office I had this USAF SSgt. He and I had a healthy “prank war”
going on between us. He’d prank me and I’d have to one-up him. It went on like this for a few
months. The tide seemed to turn in my favor when my son sent me a PVC marshmallow shooter.
The days followed with me bouncing marshmallows off his bald head when he wasn’t paying
attention. Even better, when I used really stale marshmallows and they would literally shatter on
the back of his head. So you see he had every reason to want to cut me down. So if you don’t
know this already, enlisted folk will sit and wait till the perfect moment to get even, and he got
Back to the dogs… So, when they asked for volunteers in this dog exercise, my evil SSgt told them
that I would be honored to be the human chew toy for this demonstration. WTH? Is that any
way for an enlisted troop to treat his OIC? Payback’s a bitch, people! And I was on the receiving
end of this one…STS!
So there I was in Baghdad, Iraq about to be a play thing for some German Sheppard. Did I
mention that I grew up around large dogs? The lead trainer comes up to me as I put on the
protective suit and gives me some last minute instruction on how to conduct myself and how
to keep safe. He tells me when he gives the command to just turn and run, the dog will do the
rest. Also, when the dog has me on the ground and is latched on to my arm to yell at it and move
around, basically telling me to fight back…it’s to keeps them “interested” and “pissed-off” at
Let’s recap: I have a bite suit on, and this guy wants me to fight back while this slobbering bag of
sharp teeth is latched on to my arm to keep him interested and pissed-off at me? Gee, thanks a lot
buddy, really! You sure you don’t want to pour some steak sauce on me, too?
We get set up and the trainer gives me the signal to sprint as fast as I can. I take off running
(more of an awkward waddle really) and my internal radar is trying to pick when this dog is
going to strike; however, it seems that this dog has some pretty incredible ninja skills because I
can’t hear him approaching. Without warning he leaps and grabs my right arm, elbow high and
my momentum and his combine; he turns me around putting me completely off balance and I go
down to the ground. Now the dog has me on my back and is trying to find flesh…Oh yes, and
I fought back. Which did in fact piss this dog off further. The amount of evil in its eyes and
intense growling made me resolve to never run from a service dog EVER!
All said and done, with a slightly bruised ego and no worse for the wear, I vowed that my SSgt
was going to pay dearly for this…lessons learned? Don’t mess with your enlisted troops!