According to a story circulating on the Internet, that slobbering reject from a Ceasar Millan seminar in the picture is Brutus, a military K-9, stationed at McChord Air Force Base. And believe it or not, he is supposed to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, during a tour in Iraq. My friend Ken, a retired police officer, sent me this image and the accompanying story but when I saw the picture I did a double-take! Unless I was completely mistaken, I had seen this dog before – in person!
Claiming that he is part Boxer, part British Bull Mastiff, tipping the scales at 200 lbs, the perpetrator of this urban myth, (who remains anonymous and yes, unfortunately, this story did turn out to be a hoax) insists that this is the tail of a heroic dog and his Air Force master. (Ironically, this dog is an actual K-9 hero after all – just not in the way this story portrays him).
It’s an incredible story of an Airman and the heroic dog who loved him. Brutus, his master and four other soldiers are captured by insurgents- Brutus then escapes, but not before receiving a silent command from his handler, to return with help. He comes back, alone, hoping the element of surprise will give him the edge he needs to complete what can only be described as a suicide mission! Springing into action, ala Rin Tin Tin, Brutus is discovered but manages to dodge heavy, and concentrated Iraqi machine-gun fire, to locate and subsequently rescue his human handler/companion – leaving the Army guys to fend for themselves!
Tearing out the throats of several Iraqi guards, even while sustaining a painful shoulder wound, Brutus claws his way through solid-oak doors, and with his teeth, is able to untie the ropes that holds his master captive. Throwing the unconscious (he was water-boarded) airman across his back and bleeding profusely himself he starts to make his way back out of the Iraqi torture chamber toward friendly forces. But as images of ticker tape parades and steaks and beer for the rest of his life dance through his pea brain, Brutus changes his mind and decides, after all, to come to the rescue of the Army (just like the Marines).
Somehow he manages to hot wire an Iraqi truck, and while dragging the unconscious Army guys into the back of the truck he thinks; hmm, the fat one might be a tasty substitute for field rations if we are forced into hiding before making it back to friendly lines.
Military MuttWhile it is fact that our canine companions have often distinguished themselves in time of war, to my knowledge, no dog has ever been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. There have been only two recipients of our Nation’s highest award for Valor in connection with the Iraq war and they were both humans, one a Marine Corporal (posthumously) and one an Army Sergeant. Therefore, it would seem clear that the story of Brutus is no more than a mythical canine hero brought to the web, possibly to perpetuate support for the war in Iraq, author unknown. It’s one of those stories that do no harm and it’s fun to let your imagination soar, thinking that something like that could actually happen.
Halfway through this post I starting digging through some old photos and sure enough I came across one that jogged my memory. It turns out that Brutus, is actually a dog named Spike, a retired, Service Police Dog, who served with distinction while a member of the Scottsdale, Arizona Police Department’s K-9 Unit (2001-2007). Spike is a Belgian Malinois breed, not a Bulldog-Mastiff mix, weighing less than 100 lbs, most of it sinewy muscle. But it was a picture of his handler, Scott Di Iullo, (still with the K-9 Unit in Scottsdale) that I had taken myself at a Scottsdale Police K-9 Demonstration that brought back the real story. Now, I have to ask myself, just what are the odds that I actually knew, in real life, the subject of an urban myth making the rounds on the Internet? I feel so blessed!
A younger BrutusHere is the real story behind Spike, alias Brutus, backed up by our friends at Snopes.com and based on my personal experience. It’s the (bogus) story of the only canine to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for Valor in the performance of his heroic duty in Iraq. I am a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona and attended the 12-week Scottsdale Police Department’s Citizen Academy in 2005 where, during a guest-officer appearance, I met Spike’s handler/companion Scott. According to him, these dogs are trained by and live at home with their officer/handler and his or her family. After a demanding tour of duty, usually between 5 – 9 years they usually find themselves taking it easy, slouched on a couch, watching TV. I was able to get close to Spike and not knowing the Belgian Malinois breed I asked Scott about his bloodline. That’s why I remembered this particular dog. He was very relaxed at the time, probably in his waning years as a cop and looking forward to a nap. And that, my friends, is not an urban myth!
The K-9 Unit in Scottsdale brings one or two of their K-9 officers to the Citizens Academy class to demonstrate the use of dogs in drug searches, suspect take-downs, crowd control and a hundred other tasks. These are the true heroes, dogs that are not trained to fatally injure a suspect but to bite and hold the subject while their human handlers take them into custody. These are the real heroes who risk their lives every day to “protect and serve.”