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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


A Dog and a Soldier

River with his family

River with his family

By Alexandra Giacomini
Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012 - If ever a person narrowed the term ‘Veteran’ to a strictly human category, they were sorely mistaken. Veterans can come in many shapes, and even more sizes. A perfect example would be former explosives sniffing dog, River N670.

River spent eight months in Kuwait as well as a short tour to Jerusalem sniffing out explosives. Only four years old, this Belgian Malinois has retired from the United States Air Force because of an unfortunate heat accident that gave him a seizure disorder. It is believed that his body temperature reached a high of 109 degrees in said accident, giving him enough of a disorder to retire.

It was not too long ago when the United States Air Force used to euthanize dogs like River, mostly due to liability concerns. Luckily and happily, the US War Dogs group helped legislation pass so that they can instead be adopted, and River is consequently one lucky dog.

After his great service, River was adopted by former Military Working Dog handler Colleen Passmore. Due to her past experience as a canine handler, she was able to easily adopt River; however, anyone from civilian non-handlers to police departments can just as well adopt such dogs.

Don't think this working dog can't be a softy. Passmore and her family can more than attest to that.

"He loves my family," she happily reports, "He's just plain awesome. He loves the kids...and is completely and utterly attached to my 10-year old."

His new family is doing all they can to make River comfortable in his retirement. What's better is his consistent health. According to Passmore, they have done a great job of keeping River cooled off, and he has yet to have a seizure since his adoption.

With a kennel out back, a bed in the house, and a family who loves him, this dog is living the good life. However, River N670 should not be thought of as a simple canine, but a legitimate Veteran who has bravely served his country.


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