Each year, hundreds of military dogs are deployed overseas to assist members of the United States military. These highly trained dogs are placed in harm’s way each and every day in order to protect the brave women and men who are involved in combat. To pay tribute and honor to these dogs, the American Humane Lois Pope LIFEK-9 Medal of Courage was recently awarded to five canine veterans. One of those dogs is a chocolate Labrador named Coffee.
Coffee the dog worked alongside his handler Army Sgt. James Bennett for nearly ten years. The pair always worked side by side, offering one another guidance and comfort along the way. They both did three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Coffee worked during those tours as an explosive detections dog, facing extreme danger as she sniffed out bombs. It was the unit’s first line of defense and Coffee never lost a soldier at any point in her career. In fact, her work saved many lives and she even came under fire quite a few times.
The military has a valuable asset in dogs like Coffee, who are prized for their incredible courage, loyalty, and of course their impeccable sense of smell. Currently, there are over 1,600 such dogs serving both in the U.S. military and all around the world as well. Sadly, thirty four of these dogs have died in action during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Coffee played an important role for the military, and also for her handler—James says that she became his best friend during his three deployments. It was the incredible bond shared between James and Coffee that compelled him to nominate her for the K-9 Medal of Courage.
These days, Coffee is enjoying a quiet life of well-deserved retirement with James and his family. Congratulations, Coffee!