Photo of Injured Military Canine Goes Viral

purple heart dog

By Debbie Gregory.

Photos of Army Spc. Andrew Brown and his canine companion, Rocky, recovering side by side after they were injured in Afghanistan, have gone viral. The photos were posted by the 89th Military Police Brigade on Facebook.

The picture of the military K-9, injured in a bomb explosion, shows Rocky wearing a Purple Heart Medal in a hospital in Germany.

Spc. Brown and Rocky, who have been a team for two years, were working with Special Operations Forces, searching a structure for explosive materials in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on December 3rd, when a bomb exploded, spraying out deadly shrapnel.

Brown, 22, of Eliot, Maine, suffered non-life threatening injuries and will undergo a series of tests for traumatic brain injury. The tests are routine for soldiers injured by roadside bombs. Both Spc. Brown and Rocky are expected to recover from their injuries.

“The Army typically does not process awards for our working dogs the same way we do for our other soldiers,” Army spokesman Sgt. Michal Garrett said. “The Purple Heart in the photo was placed on Rocky as a sign of respect and solidarity between him and Brown during their recovery.”

On December 11th, Brown arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, while Rocky remained in Germany.

purpleheart dog

On December 15th, the brigade posted another photo of Rocky on Facebook that said, “The veterinarians in Germany taking care of Rocky have closed up his wounds, repaired his leg, and are keeping an eye on him around the clock. He is expected to make a full recovery, and depending on how fast he recovers, could be home soon. Both Rocky and SPC Brown are doing very well and are grateful for the outpouring of support. We can’t wait to have them home. Proven in Battle!”

“Please remember them, as well as all our soldiers deployed around the world, during the holiday season,” the 89th Military Police Brigade said on their Facebook page.

A Tragic Ending for a Military Canine: Military Connection


By Debbie Gregory.

A bomb-sniffing combat dog who earned two Bronze Stars during two tours in Iraq in a Special Operations Forces unit was shot to death by a bicyclist who felt the hero canine was a threat.

Now his owner, Army veteran Matthew Bessler, is asking for a burial with military honors for his dog.

Mike, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed in Wyoming by a bicyclist who says the dog attacked him. There were no witnesses, but the man told police he used his bike as a shield from the attacking dog.

Mike served with Bessler in Iraq in the U.S. Army acting as a combat dog and in bomb detection. When the pair returned from their deployment, Bessler adopted the military canine. Mike helped Bessler transition back to civilian life.

But Mike was more than just a companion.

Bessler shared, “I raised him and trained him as a puppy, and the ability he has to sense some of the issues that I have with seizures, with my PTSD, my TBI (traumatic brain injury) and severe anxiety disorders, how he can calm me down just by him being in my presence.  He can help take the focus and help change the focus of what’s going on with me and help me calm down or relax me.”

The unnamed bicyclist who shot Mike told law enforcement that he felt threatened by a pack of dogs that he encountered while on the road.

Bessler, who was out of town at the time of the shooting, does not believe the cyclist’s claims that Mike was acting aggressively enough to warrant the shooting.

“If the guy was actually fending the dogs off with a bicycle, (Mike) would have really been barking, and there was no barking,” Bessler said. “The guests who were at the house, they said the same thing. There was no barking. It was just a gunshot.”

A GoFundMe account for Mike was created, and has already surpassed its initial goal to raise $10,000. The additional donations will be distributed to a program that honors and supports military war veterans.

“We are a community coming together to mourn the loss of a brave military service dog, who deserves the honor to be laid to rest with a military funeral and burial,” according to the account.
The 59-year-old bicyclist has not been cited for any wrongdoing.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.