I was just reading that the Navy Seals who took out bin Laden brought a dog with them on the mission. I'm trying to find the full story. While searching, I found this fascinating article in the NY Times from the other day about the dogs of war. And, of course, the marines have a penchant for labs. Here's just a small piece of it:
"Within the military, the breeds of choice are generally the German shepherd and a Belgian shepherd, or Malinois, but Marines in Afghanistan rely on pure-bred Labrador retrievers because of the dogs’ good noses and nonaggressive, eager-to-please temperaments. Labs now accompany many Marine foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, wandering off-leash 100 yards or more in front as bomb detectors. It is the vital work of an expensively trained canine (the cost to the American military can be as high as $40,000 per dog), but at the end of a sweltering day, sometimes a Lab is still a Lab.
"Last spring on a patrol in Helmand’s Garmsir District, a Lab, Tango, was leading a small group of Marines on a dirt road leading into a village when the dog suddenly went down on all fours, wagging his tail — a sign that he had detected explosives nearby. The patrol froze as a Marine explosives team investigated. No bomb was found and the patrol continued, but on the way back the dog, miserable in the 102-degree heat and like most Labrador retrievers a good swimmer, abandoned his duties and leaped into an irrigation canal to cool off. But then he could not climb back up the steep bank. One of the Marines, swearing lustily, finally jumped into the canal and carried the dog out in his arms.
"The bonds that grow in battle between the Labs and their Marine handlers are already the stuff of heart-tugging war stories. But few have had the emotional impact of that of Pfc. Colton W. Rusk, a 20-year-old Marine machine gunner and dog handler who was killed in December by sniper fire in Sangin, one of the most deadly areas in Helmand. During his deployment, Private Rusk sent his parents a steady flow of pictures and news about his beloved bomb dog, Eli, a black Lab. When Private Rusk was shot, Marine officers told his parents, Eli crawled on top of their son to try to protect him.
"The 3-year-old Eli, the first name of the survivors listed in Private Rusk’s obituary, was retired early from the military and adopted in February by Private Rusk’s parents, Darrell and Kathy Rusk. “He’s a big comfort to us,” Kathy Rusk said in a telephone interview from her home in Orange Grove, Tex. After the dog’s retirement ceremony in February at Lackland Air Force Base, an event that generated enormous news coverage in Texas, the Rusks brought Eli for the first time into their home. “The first place he went was Colton’s room,” Mrs. Rusk said. “He sniffed around and jumped up on his bed.”
And here's the link to the article from the NYTimes: