It may not be “Call of the Wild” by Jack London, but it will surely show you a dog’s perspective.
At 8 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 21, Animal Planet will debut GLORY HOUNDS, a two-hour, first-of-its-kind special with Animal Planet’s filmmakers and camera crews documenting handlers and military working dogs in some of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan. The show repeats 9 a.m. Feb. 24 ET/PT.
According to a release from Animal Planet, camera teams acquired specialized training before spending six weeks in Afghanistan embedded with the troops. It took the network a year to get permission to film the special, which followed the animals into insurgent-filled combat zones.
In the film is Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leonard Anderson, a military dog handler who was severely wounded when a bomb exploded on a strip of dirt in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. While he was being treated, by his side stood Azza, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, who whimpered in worry.
Azza became a military dog when she was 3-years-old and detecting explosives was her specialty, Anderson said.
On July 28, 2012, Azza and Anderson patrolled a mile from the base camp to do a routine check to ensure “where his men and dogs were headed and what they were facing.” Military experts who examined the blast site afterward said the bomb was activated by remote control, not set off by touch.
The explosion knocked the camera out of Craig Constant’s hands, the cameraman following Anderson that day.
“I don’t know how he survived. There was a 6-foot-by-5-foot crater, and he was right on top of it,” said Constant, who suffered ear drum damage and shrapnel wounds. The sound technician behind Constant was wounded in the leg.
Anderson slipped in and out of consciousness while a medic and Constant, who is a former Marine, worked on his legs. Azza was “fixated” on Anderson and restless while he was being treated.
Anderson lost his left forearm and four fingers on his right hand, suffered upper body injuries and lost the skin on both legs. He has undergone at least 20 surgeries to repair the damage.
Yet still, Azza remains with Anderson. She has been retired and was adopted by Anderson, his wife and their sons.
In GLORY HOUNDS, as in war, some dogs and handlers come home, some return forever changed, and some don’t come home at all.
“They call them tools, and they are not. They are soldiers. They just have four paws instead of two feet. They walk in front of the platoons,” Constant said in the Associated Press article.
“It’s a deadly game, and they die all the time. But they save lives by finding IEDs that technology can’t find.”
To get a sneak peek of the film, visit Animal Planet’s GLORY HOUNDS.