They will be back in service soon. “Both K-9s were cleared for duty by the veterinarian,” Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan wrote in an e-mail on Thursday.
Few details have emerged of Hurricane and Jordan. But it’s clear they are — so to speak — a special breed. Secret Service dogs must pass rigorous training in specialites such as subduing assailants and detecting explosives. Like many security agencies and militaries, the Secret Service uses Belgian Malanois, a breed similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact. An adult male weighs more than 60 pounds and can run in bursts twice as fast as the swiftest human. Its short hair makes it ideal for work in heat.
The Secret Service, which began its K-9 program in 1975, puts the canine candidates through 20 weeks of training. After they are cleared for duty, they remain with their handler around the clock and undergoes at least eight hours a week of refresher training.
“They become part of the family,” said a Secret Service Web site.
Most Secret Service dogs work until they are about 10 years old. “When a canine is ready to retire,” the Secret Service site said, “it is retired to the handler.”
Use of dogs in warfare and protection goes back to antiquity. Over the centuries, they have been used as messengers, bomb sniffers, trackers and scouts. The World War I exploits of “Sergeant Stubby,” described as a Boston bull terrier, include claims that he saved his regiment by sniffing out incoming mustard gas and helped capture a German soldier by latching onto his trousers. The “sergeant” became a mascot for Georgetown University.
Navy Seal dogs may be baddest of the bunch. They are outfitted with Kevlar vests and learn how to strap on for parachute jumps with their handlers.
And fallen K-9s merit full honors. Homeland Security bestowed an official commemoration for Maxo, a 3-year-old Malinois who fell to its death in 2013 from the sixth floor of a parking area in New Orleans while doing advance sweeps for a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.