November 21, 2013

Military Working Dogs

During a visit to our local American Legion Post 54 in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida, we discovered a very handsome and equally fascinating vet.  There on the floor, with people stepping over him, unflustered, enjoying his low level view, was a military working dog. A  Belgium Malinois (pronounced mal-in-wah),  Bartje (pronounced Bar-shay) retired in October of 2013 after serving in  Afghanistan and Mayport, Florida. His handler, Master-at-Arms (MA) 1st Class Eliot Fiaschi, is responsible for military working dog teams in the South East, US. He has adopted Bartje and it's plain to see their mutual devotion.

Before I reached to pet Bartje, I asked Fiaschi, "Does he bite?"

He replied casually, "Only when I tell him to."

Well, Bartje got lots of attention and lots of petting that day, dressed as he was in his official vest, complete with his name and ribbons.

Until this time, I'd heard of and seen military dogs on the news, but never realized how vital they are to our national security.  They are determined to please their masters, following commands to the point of self sacrifice. 

To read more about Navy man Fiaschi, visit

Most importantly, please take a few minutes to check out K9 Pride.  This site lists three non-profit organizations supporting our military dogs, including Kevlar for K9s, and explains what equipment these wonderful animals need to stay safe and comfortable in harsh conditions like Afghanistan.

Master-at-Arms (MA) 1st Class Eliot Fiaschi is featured in
 K9 Heroes by Nicole Arbelo
I also want to mention that Bartje's visit to the American Legion Post was due to Karen Kelley with BARC, Boxer Aid & Rescue Coalition.  Visit her non-profit boxer rescue site at